Pryce Crowned Drive DMACK Fiesta Trophy Champion

Pryce Crowned Drive DMACK Fiesta Trophy Champion

Osian Pryce and Dale Furniss crowned 2016 Drive DMACK Fiesta Trophy Champions.
Jon Armstrong takes the final two prize drives in 2017 WRC2 after winning in Spain.
Jon Armstrong and Noel O'Sullivan crowned 2016 Rookie Champions.

Osian Pryce and Dale Furniss lifted the Drive DMACK Fiesta Trophy title in dramatic style after a thrilling final round of nip-and-tuck championship action in Spain. The Welsh pairing got their hands on the title only after narrowly holding off a gutsy late challenge from flying Finn Max Vatanen.

For the third year running, the Trophy title race, which provides a training ground for budding world rally stars of the future, hung in the balance until the very last stage of the season finale.

Pryce and Furniss led the overall standings going into this weekend’s year-ending RallyRACC-Rally de Espana. But a captivating climax lay in store. An electrical problem on Friday hampered the Welsh wonders and saw them plunge down the Spanish leaderboard.

By contrast, Trophy veteran Vatanen pulled out all the stops and remained in close pursuit, benefiting from past experience of the event. However, he was ultimately unable to overhaul 23-year-old Pryce and Furniss, aged 28, at the championship summit.

A new competition prize structure saw a total of three pairs of WRC2 prize drives offered to crews competing in what proved once again to be an ultra-competitive Drive DMACK Fiesta Trophy. This revamped format proved a huge hit, with three different talented young crews now having a chance to strut their stuff on the WRC2 stage.

Jon Armstrong is the third of these, gleefully gobbling up the last pair of prize drives today to round off a memorable year. The Northern Irishman, along with co-driver Noel O’Sullivan, tasted victory at the final rally of the season, and was the top points-scorer over the final two events in Germany and Spain.

Armstrong, aged 21, made his Trophy debut at last year’s RallyRACC-Rally de Espana, and used his knowledge of the stages to lead throughout this weekend. It was his second race win of the season, following his triumph at Lotos Rally Poland. He has also claimed the top Rookie award and was third overall in the final Trophy standings.

This weekend saw 10 crews from across the world tackle the only mixed surface outing of the season at a rally based in the holiday resort of Salou. They were confronted with treacherous conditions on Friday when torrential rain turned gravel roads into mud baths. There followed a busy extended evening service for the M-Sport team as competitors’ identical Ford Fiesta R2 cars were switched to Tarmac specifications. This brought a change of suspension, the addition of bigger brakes and a move to DMACK’s asphalt tyres for the final two days on Spain’s fast-flowing roads.

Pretenders to the crown then continued to show off their skills, most giving their best Trophy displays to date. Gus Greensmith finished second just 51.8 seconds behind Armstrong, and in doing so the Englishman claimed his first podium finish of 2016.

The 19-year-old bounced back from broken steering on day one and recorded the fastest times on three of Saturday’s eight stages to end the season on a high note. Jakub Brzezinski was left satisfied with a strong performance, rounding off a promising season for the 30-year-old Pole. Frenchman Nicolas Ciamin, at 18 the youngest driver in this season’s competition, showed his liking for Tarmac by recording two fastest stage times.

The same was true of 25-year-old Kenyan Karan Patel, who gave a good of account of himself before he, like Ciamin and three others, was forced to make a premature last day retirement. Another was Oscar Solberg, of Norway, although he will reflect on steady displays throughout the season.

Two drivers made their first 2016 Trophy outings in Spain. They were Guillaume de Mevius, of Belgium, who also competed at the corresponding event last year, and debutant Juuso Nordgren, from Finland.

Dick Cormack, DMACK managing director, said: “The Trophy continues to grow from strength to strength and this year has seen even more intense rivalry. Jon’s driven a very impressive rally to win this weekend but Osian also deserves the title. Max has benefitted also with the new prize drive structure, which has turned out to be a real success.”

Malcolm Wilson, M-Sport managing director, said: “It's been another fantastic year with competitive performances from all of our Fiesta R2 drivers. Once again, the championship has come down to the wire and we've witnessed some intense and extremely close-fought battles throughout the season.

"Congratulations to all of this year's crews, but especially to Osian, Max and Jon who have each secured two prize drives for next year. Our intention was to award those who delivered exceptional performances, and I think we have three very worthy winners who now have the opportunity to show what they can do at the next level.”

Driver Quotes

Osian Pryce from Wales said: “We’ve been both unlucky and very lucky this weekend. It’s been a bit of a rollercoaster season with great battles with Max and we’re just over the moon to pull it off today. We did the best we could all weekend and to be rewarded like this after many months and years of hard work is just a great feeling.”

Max Vatanen from Finland said: “It was a tight battle but we had good speed today and everything went pretty well. Unfortunately a number of crews retired so that was not really in our favour, but congratulations to Osian and Dale. On the positive side, we have come away with two WRC2 drives for next year so that’s a big bonus.”

Jon Armstrong from Northern Ireland said: “I’m overwhelmed, it’s been a fantastic weekend. We set out trying to have a clean run on the gravel and we did that. We had a good lead and managed to hold it for the rest of the rally, it’s fantastic. To win two rallies is more than I could have dreamed of and to get the two drives for next year is just great. It’s going to be amazing experience and we’re really looking forward to it.”

Gus Greensmith from England said: “Our chance of winning the rally was over fairly early when we damaged a steering arm, but I feel Katrin and I did a good job managing the issue. We had a push on SS10 and 11, opened up a gap and then just played it safe. The biggest challenge this year has been maintaining focus and positivity after all the incidents and I’ve shown progression and pace. The DDFT has been the best thing I could have done for my career, I’ve worked with all the right people and raced against the best young drivers.”

Nicolas Ciamin from France said: “I was pleased with my performance especially on the Tarmac stages. The dual surfaces haven’t been a huge issue for me, but I’m glad we started on gravel and then made the switch. It was great to get two fastest times but I’m still searching for the limit. It’s not far away, however, so hopefully I’ll continue improving and start doing good things.”

Jakub Brzezinski from Poland said: “The rally here in Spain has been the best one I’ve ever driven. There have been so many spectators and the stages were breath-taking. I couldn’t have imagined gaining so much experience in a single season as I have done with this Trophy. There has been so many different types of surfaces and conditions, it’s been great and a fantastic experience.”

Oscar Solberg from Norway said: “We didn’t have the result we wanted and it was the first time I haven’t finished a round this season. Working out how to drive on the Tarmac stages makes me want to start the event again, so I can apply that knowledge. It’s only my first year and I hope to be involved in the Trophy next year so I can build on the knowledge I’ve already gained. The whole experience has been really good and can’t wait for next season.”

Karan Patel from Kenya said: “I felt I drove pretty hard, and tried not to back off like I’ve been doing in previous events, but I’m quite happy. On every stage I have been having fun and, while I’m still learning, that is important. Compared with Germany it’s so much more predictable here, which has allowed me to concentrate on my pace-notes, which are improving rally by rally. I’ve enjoyed the Trophy immensely and have a new wealth of experience to take back to my home rallies.”

Guillaume de Mevius from Belgium said: “I’ve been improving with the Fiesta this weekend as I haven’t had much experience with the car this far. I competed here last year in my first ever WRC event and this is only my second so I was very happy with our performance and position before we had to retire. I prefer gravel rallies but getting the extra time on Tarmac here has been really valuable.”

Juuso Nordgren from Finland said: “It’s been my first time here in Spain and my first Tarmac event, so quite a difficult for us here. I felt I improved stage by stage, getting used to a new car and set up has been a great learning experience for me. All in all I’ve really enjoyed the Fiesta Trophy format and hope to be involved next year. The service crew did a great job and I’d like to thank the team for their work this weekend.”

Final Event Classification
1. Jon Armstrong / Noel O’Sullivan 3h 47m 36.6s
2. Gus Greensmith / Katrin Becker 3h 48m 28.4s
3. Max Vatanen / JJ Renucci 3h 48m 33.9s
4. Jakub Brzeziński / Jakub Gerber Rookie 3h 53m 02.4s
5. Osian Pryce / Dale Furniss 4h 00m 19.8s

Drivers Final Trophy Classification After Round 5
1. Osian Pryce 112
2. Max Vatanen 105
3. Jon Armstrong Rookie 97
4. Gus Greensmith 52
5. Bernardo Sousa 47
6. Jakub Brzeziński Rookie 43
7. Nicolas Ciamin Rookie 34
8. Oscar Solberg Rookie 34
9. Karan Patel Rookie 12
10. Dillon Van Way Rookie 10

Co-Drivers Final Trophy Classification After Round 5
1. Dale Furniss 112
2. Noel O’Sullivan 97
3. Maxime Vilmot 65
4. Hugo Magalhaes 47
5. Jakub Gerber 35
6. Thibault de la Haye 34
7. Patrik Barth 34
8. Alex Gelsomino 31
9. JJ Renucci 21
10. Katrin Becker 21
11. Thierry Salva 19
12. Phil Hall 12
13. Andrew Edwards 10

16-10-2016

Pryce Crowned Drive DMACK Fiesta Trophy Champion
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