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Juniors Face Proper Race For Poland Victory

After successfully battling one of the toughest rounds of the series, competitors fighting for the 2017 FIA Junior World Rally Championship are set to take on what’s expected to be one of their fastest rallies at Orlen Rally Poland next weekend.

The high-speed gravel stages in the Masurian Lake District in the far north of the country will see championship leaders Nil Solans and Miki Ibanez aim to make it three in a row after taking victory on both rounds so far this season. They hold a 20-point championship lead and won the first two prize drives, but are likely to come under more pressure next week.

Frenchmen Nicolas Ciamin and Tibo de la Haye in second place are also targeting victory after finishing runner-up to Solans on both rallies this year, and would love to move one step higher on the podium.

Fellow countryman Terry Folb scored his best Junior WRC result of second at Rally Poland last year and he will also be aiming for the top step of the podium. Julius Tannert from Germany took his first podium last time out in Sardinia and will again be out to prove his speed.

It’s also another chance for the Rookies to demonstrate their development this season. Swede Dennis Rådström notched up his first scratch time with a much-improved pace in Sardinia while Dillon Van Way and Sebastian Careaga are also aiming to lift their speed.

After his accident on the last event, Miko Niinemae remains injured and won’t make the start. However, 20-year-old Finnish star Emil Lindholm joins the Junior ranks in Poland. He was recently chosen as the Future Rally Star of Finland and wins a funded drive in Junior WRC on Rally Finland.

Rally Poland is the home event for the M-Sport Poland team which prepares and runs the identical Ford Fiesta R2T rally cars. They will be fitted with DMACK’s DMG+22 GH43 medium compound tyres.

The event is renowned for its super-high speeds but tall grass often hides the approach to corners, and making accurate pacenotes during the recce is vital. Soft and sandy roads are normal but that means the possibility of deep ruts for the second pass. Winning in Poland demands high commitment, confidence in the car and a clever approach.

After a private shakedown on Thursday morning, the rally starts on Thursday evening with the Mikolajki Super Special. Friday sees crews tackle a four-stage loop twice with the longest day of action on Saturday featuring over 150km of stages. Sunday finishes with four short tests closer to host town Mikolajki.

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

“As the home rally for our M-Sport Poland team, we are all excited for next week’s event. We’re now two rallies in and everyone is improving their pace as they get more experience with the Fiesta, so we’re expecting a really close battle. The Polish stages are extremely fast and very demanding, they are a favourite with many drivers and I hope everyone has an enjoyable event.”

Dick Cormack, DMACK managing director, said:

“DMACK tyres have traditionally performed well in Poland so we’re looking forward to another strong and competitive event. The championship is really starting to hot up now and I think we are going to have another really exciting battle in Poland.”


Rally Poland Junior WRC entry list

71 Nil Solans (Spain) / Miguel Ibanez (Spain)
72 Terry Folb (France) / Christopher Guieu (France)
73 Julius Tannert (Germany) / Jurgen Heigl (Austria)
74 Nicolas Ciamin (France) / Thibault de la Haye (France)
75 Robert Duggan (Ireland) / Tom Woodburn (UK)
76 Miko Niinemäe (Estonia) / Martin Valter (Estonia)
77 Dillon Van Way (USA) / Dai Roberts (UK)
78 Dennis Rådström (Sweden) / Johan Johansson (Sweden)
79 Sebastian Careaga (Bolivia) / Rodrigo Sanjuan (Spain)
80 Emil Lindholm (Finland) / Tomi Tuominen (Finland)

Driver Comments

Nicolas Ciamin from France: “I was really pleased with Sardinia, I didn’t expect to set fastest times on gravel yet but we scored four – that was very encouraging. We’ve been second twice now, while it would be nice to think we could aim for first, I still think that’s a little optimistic. Poland is difficult because it is so fast and you must think that every corner is faster than it should be on another event.”

Emil Lindholm from Finland: “My aim for Rally Poland is to have a solid performance, avoid mistakes and try to set some times in the top-three. I expect the second pass will be rutted so one of the challenges will be to avoid problems and find a compromise between speed and caring for the car. The roads are very fast, we’ve tested already and will concentrate on making good pacenotes.”

Dennis Rådström from Sweden: “We got faster in Sardinia and the aim for Poland is to have fun, get the experience and keep up that improved pace from Sardinia. The speed in Poland is incredible and the challenge is to keep focused and trust the pacenotes. The recce will again be important to get the best information to be able to push hard.”

Dillon Van Way from USA: “I was happy with my improvement in pace in Sardinia and hopefully that progression continues in Poland. Our aim next week is to have a big push and see if we can get up into the overall battle – we need about two seconds per mile and I know we are capable of that. I have heard the Poland stages are very fast so the initial challenge will be to have a strong recce with pacenotes that are 100 per cent perfect.”


Championship Points after round 2

1. Nil Solans / Miguel Ibanez 62
2. Nicolas Ciamin / Thibault de la Haye 42
3. Terry Folb / Christopher Guieu 33
4. Julius Tannert / Jurgen Heigl 27
5. Dennis Rådström / Johan Johansson 21
6. Robert Duggan / Tom Woodburn 20
7. Sebastian Careaga / Rodrigo Sanjuan 10
7. Dillon Van Way / Dai Roberts 10
9. Miko Niinemäe / Martin Valter 2
10. William Wagner / Kevin Parent 0