Finnish rally driver Max Vatanen is confident that he can close in on the Drive DMACK Fiesta Trophy title this weekend at Rallye Deutschland.
The 25 year old currently sits third in the standings, two points behind Britain’s Tom Cave and nine points adrift of championship leader Marius Aasen. Victory in the Fiesta Trophy earns a full-season Ford Fiesta R5 drive in the 2016 WRC2 championship, making the WRC support event a crucial part of the international rallying calendar.
After achieving success on the three all-gravel rounds in Portugal, Poland and Finland (victory in Portugal being the highlight) Vatanen has been forced to adjust to the challenge of the German tarmac roads for the fourth stop on the calendar.
“It’s quite challenging when you go from gravel to tar,” said Vatanen. “It’s a different attitude to the driving. You have to be even more committed, brake even later and carry more speed through the corners.”
“There’s less space for error. If you make a mistake on gravel you can slide the car but you can’t do that so much on tarmac. The driving line has to be perfect otherwise the clock doesn’t like it.”
Vatanen recently re-acquainted himself with the travails of tarmac rallying at Rallye Wartburg in the heart of Germany in early August. Finishing third in class with co-driver Jacques-Julien Renucci has given Vatanen, son of 1981 World Rally champion Ari, plenty of confidence ahead of the notoriously challenging German round.
“It was good to have some kilometres on tarmac,” he said. “We didn’t focus on set-up changes or anything like that, it’s been a year since we were on Tar so we just got used to it again.”
“I’ll be focusing on driving the rally stage by stage and corner by corner. You don’t think about the championship when you’re in the rally, you just try to do your best – one corner at a time.”
The fourth event of the Drive DMACK Ford Fiesta Trophy will get underway at 08:30 AM (local) on August 22, beginning with the 14 km Saurtel stage. Elements in the Eifel mountains and surrounding vineyards will form the majority of the rally, before the event’s conclusion in the form of a blast through the infamous Panzerplatte fields section on Sunday afternoon.