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Debut Victory For Ciamin Opens Up Championship Race

Frenchmen Nicolas Ciamin and Tibo de la Haye took their first overall FIA Junior World Rally Championship victory together at Neste Rally Finland today. They won by 3min 26secs from championship leader Nil Solans after a drama-filled final day.

Solans’ final-stage win edged him into second ahead of Swede Dennis Rådström – giving the Spaniard just enough points to take two more WRC 2 prize drives.

Ciamin sealed his best finish in the category after setting 11 fastest times and leading for 20 of the 25 super-fast, gravel stages in central Finland. However, he just missed out on the prize drives on the last stage after Solans took advantage of the situation today.

The fight for second and third went down to the final stage after a high-drama finish. Solans and Miki Ibanez dropped over three minutes on Saturday after sliding off the road into a ditch. But they battled back and jumped from fourth to second on the very last stage – leap-frogging Rådström and Julius Tannert.

Rådström and Johan Johansson from Sweden also lost over three minutes on Saturday after they went off the road at high-speed and had a light roll today on stage 23. But the pair managed to finish third after also leading for four stages on Friday and claiming four stage wins over the weekend.

Tannert and Jurgen Heigl were early rally leaders after setting the fastest time on the opening test on Thursday night. They had been holding the final podium place until also rolling their Ford Fiesta R2T this morning, but they managed to finish fourth.

Local stars Emil Lindholm and Tomi Tuominen had been in a comfortable second place after a solid weekend but a heavy accident today saw them retire with a badly damaged car. Dillon Van Way was fifth while Terry Folb was forced to retire from second place with engine failure on stage 14 after an improved run saw him win four stages on the opening day.

The iconic event, based around host city Jyväskylä, attracted huge numbers of fans from across the world. It was another extremely competitive event for the M-Sport run series. Using control DMACK DMG+22 tyres and identical Ford Fiesta R2T cars, six different drivers took stage wins and the final podium places were decided on the last 10km of the event.

Maciek Woda, M-Sport’s Junior WRC manager, said:

“Congratulations to Nicolas and Tibo for taking their first, well-deserved victory and also to Nil and Miki for battling to win the prize drives. Unfortunately Terry Folb hasn’t had much luck this year but we hope to see him in Germany where he should be strong. It has been another very competitive event, with six different drivers winning stages and the final places decided on the last 10km.”

Dick Cormack, DMACK managing director, said:

“Well done to Nicolas who finally gets a win after being close many times this season. He had the perfect approach to the event and his fantastic result opens up the championship ahead of two mainly asphalt events.”

 

Top-Three Driver Comments

Nicolas Ciamin: “I think this is the best event I have ever done. Friday was a big battle but once I got into the lead I thought there was a chance I could do it. I was really happy with the performance and it was very unexpected for me to win here. Sometimes on these stages it was a little scary but if you are not scared here then you are not going fast enough.”

Nil Solans: “We didn’t expect to be in this position but Rally Finland brings surprises and you have to make the best of the situation. After going off the road yesterday, we didn’t expect to have a chance so I’m very happy to be second and take the next two prize drives.”

Dennis Rådström: “These roads are just some of the best in the world and we really enjoyed everything over the weekend. We made a few mistakes but also pushed hard and it’s great to be on the podium again. It’s only when you come here to get this level of experience that you can see where to improve.”

 

Individual Competitor News

Nicolas Ciamin / Thibault de la Haye
They had the perfect rally to score their first Junior WRC victory but narrowly missed out on the prize drives. The pair never put a wheel wrong all weekend and led the event from stage six to the finish. Winning 11 stages also meant they are just 26 points behind championship leader Nil Solans.

Terry Folb / Christopher Guieu
It was another rally to forget for the French pair. The had a very strong opening day, setting four fastest stage times to hold a solid overnight position of second. Folb was confident of at least equalling that performance on Saturday and putting in a proper challenge for the lead. But his Fiesta suffered an engine failure on the opening second day stage and he was unable to continue.

Emil Lindholm / Tomi Tuominen
Recently-crowned Future Rally Star of Finland Lindholm was having a fantastic weekend, showing both consistency and improved pace throughout the rally. He was on course for second overall until a heavy accident on the final day forced him into retirement on his home event.

Dennis Rådström / Johan Johansson
The Swedes had an up and down rally. On a surface that was more familiar to them, they led for four stages on Friday before finishing the first day in third place. But they had two separate incidents and were lucky to finish unscathed with their second consecutive podium.

Nil Solans / Miki Ibanez
With one eye on the overall championship title and one on the prize drives, Solans and Ibanez took a measured approach this weekend. They started cautiously and improved as other drivers hit problems but found themselves in second place and prize drive winners after making the most of final day dramas.

Julius Tannert / Jurgen Heigl
German Tannert and Austrian co-driver Heigl had their best performance of the season, going fastest on the first stage and leading an event for the first time. They increased the pace over the weekend as experience of the event developed but dropped out of third place on the final day after rolling lightly and being overhauled by Solans.

Dillon Van Way / Dai Roberts
Van Way from USA has limited experience in Finland and was always going to struggle on the fast-paced event. But his game plan was to finish the stages, get the experience of these specialised roads and come back stronger. He knew the challenge was tough but successfully made it to the finish.

 


Overall Classification

1. Nicolas Ciamin / Thibault de la Haye, 2h 57m 23.4s
2. Nil Solans / Miguel Ibanez, 3h 00m 49.9s
3. Dennis Rådström / Johan Johansson, 3h 00m 51.2s
4. Julius Tannert / Jurgen Heigl, 3h 00m 59.4s
5. Dillon Van Way / Dai Roberts, 3h 08m 48.9s


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