Juniors Switch To Tarmac As Title Race Hots Up

Juniors Switch To Tarmac As Title Race Hots Up

The race to become 2017 FIA Junior World Rally Champion is about to step up a gear when the series switches to Tarmac for next week’s ADAC Rallye Deutschland – the penultimate round of the championship.

While Spain’s Nil Solans and Miki Ibanez continue to lead the championship after winning the first three rounds, their advantage was cut to 26 points after French pair Nicolas Ciamin and Tibo de la Haye took their debut victory at Rally Finland last month.

With two rounds remaining, and a host of extra stage win points on offer, the battle for the Junior title is set to go right down to the wire. The final rounds in Germany and Spain will also decide the winner of the last two prize drives – presented to the crew scoring the most points over those events.

Next week’s German round is set to be a hotly-contested battle between four asphalt experts. Solans is the most experienced but he will be chased by Ciamin, confident after winning in Finland and searching for a second victory.

Frenchmen Terry Folb and Christopher Guieu will also be looking to the top step of the podium after a season of bad luck has hampered their overall title bid. They’ve shown a strong pace on Tarmac this year but have succumbed to a number of problems.

The fourth contender for German glory is local star Julius Tannert and co-driver Jurgen Heigl from Austria. Tannert has improved his pace over the season and, with local support and home advantage, Rallye Deutschland is the one event he’s been waiting for all year.

The rally is difficult for a number of reasons. There are three distinct types of competitive stages including narrow vineyard tracks, wide country roads and the abrasive surface of the Baumholder military training ground.

The traditionally changeable German weather can also intensify the challenge. Rain showers are common, making the choice between DMACK’s soft and hard compound DMT-RC2 tyres an often difficult one. Corner-cutting can also drag mud onto the road, making the conditions unpredictable.

With a new base in Bostalsee, about 60km from previous host town Trier close to the Luxembourg and France borders, drivers will take to the stages in their identical Ford Fiesta R2T rally cars prepared by M-Sport.

After a super-special stage in Saarbrucken on Thursday night, competitors face seven stages on Friday before tackling the longest day on Saturday – including two runs over the huge 41.97km Panzerplatte test through the rough tank-training roads in Baumholder. Sunday finishes with four shorter stages close to Bostalsee.

Maciek Woda, M-Sport’s Junior WRC manager, said: “We are back on the sealed surface with four Tarmac specialists, so the stage is set for a big battle. Nil is currently leading both Junior WRC and WRC 3 championships but with Nicolas Ciamin’s confidence following his Rally Finland win, Terry Folb’s hunger to win his first 2017 event and Julius Tannert willing to show his pace on home ground, we should have another interesting event to follow.”

Dick Cormack, DMACK managing director, said: “Germany is always a tough event and one where tyre choice, and managing the weather and stage conditions, plays an important role. We’ve given competitors the same tyre options as Corsica where both our soft and hard compounds worked extremely well.”

Driver Comments
Nicolas Ciamin from France: “After an unexpected victory in Finland, the aim is to try and win again – a second victory would prove my speed and would help me to catch Nil in the overall championship. The weather, and cuts in the road, could play a big part as they make the stages very dirty. Having a good tyre strategy is very important for this rally – especially if the weather is changing.”

Terry Folb from France: “We’ve had a difficult season so far and there was a chance I may not have been able to start but I’m very happy to be here. I’m looking forward to being back on asphalt again and we hope to be aiming for the first position. It’s not an easy rally because the weather can be changing a lot but we will do our best.”

Nil Solans from Spain: “Although I prefer Tarmac, this rally is very difficult if it rains but we will still start with the aim of fighting for victory again. For sure the tyre choice will be decisive in Germany but we are confident on this surface and the aim is to get another strong load of points to arrive at our home rally in Spain in a good position.”

Julius Tannert from Germany: “I’ve been looking forward to this rally since the start of the season. This is my home event and I want to fight for the win and deliver a good show in front of my friends and supporters. I’m sure the conditions will be difficult as the roads will become slippery and that means deciding on the right tyres will be very important.”

Championship Points after round 4
1. Nil Solans / Miguel Ibanez 119
2. Nicolas Ciamin / Thibault de la Haye 93
3. Dennis Rådström / Johan Johansson 64
4. Terry Folb / Christopher Guieu 54
5. Julius Tannert / Jurgen Heigl 50
6. Dillon Van Way / Dai Roberts 28
7. Robert Duggan / Tom Woodburn 20
8. Sebastian Careaga / Rodrigo Sanjuan 16
9. Emil Lindholm / Tomi Tuominen 6
10. Miko Niinemäe / Martin Valter 2
11. William Wagner / Kevin Parent 0


Juniors Switch To Tarmac As Title Race Hots Up
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