Sun-Soaked Sardinia To Provide Bruising Gravel Battle | 2 June 2017
The conditions on next week's Rally Italia Sardegna are set to be some of the toughest of the season, with soaring temperatures, demanding roads and rugged mountain stages coming together to wage war on competitors.
Round seven of the FIA World Rally Championship on the Mediterranean island marks the half-way point of the season in sundrenched style. But the summer temperatures and baked special stages are set to be a real test for man and machine.
Elfyn Evans and Dan Barritt are well-aware of the event's challenge. Low average speeds mixed with short, sharp corners and roads littered with rocks and lined with trees mean there's no margin for error.
Their expertly-built M-Sport Ford Fiesta WRC can cope with the demands of the island tracks and they will predominantly use DMACK's hard compound GH23 tyres for the first time this season. Conditions can become rough and rutted, especially on the second pass, with sharp rocks an ever-present hazard.
The low speed roads also change the demands placed on tyres with more longitudinal stresses on the tyre carcass rather than the side forces usually experienced on gravel events.
The event starts from its base in Alghero on Thursday evening but has an overnight halt in Olbia on Thursday night. A remote tyre fitting zone on Friday kicks off the real action with two passes over a loop of four stages to the west of Olbia.
Saturday is the longest day with 143km of action and a 5am start, before four short stages on Sunday close to Alghero round off the weekend.
Dick Cormack, DMACK managing director, said: "From a tyre perspective, this is probably one of the toughest events of the season. We've improved the durability of our tyres significantly since last year, so we are confident from a performance aspect. However, the conditions, especially on second pass, are some of the hardest we'll encounter."
Elfyn Evans, DMACK WRC driver, said: "With high temperatures and the traditional rough roads, Sardinia is set to be a real challenge. From a driver's perspective it's important to be physically prepared and properly hydrated as it's always a hot and busy rally. Road cleaning on the first pass is an important factor so it will be interesting to see how that works out."
Evans Pushes For Top Pace In Portugal | 12 May 2017
Evans is hoping to continue the impressive gravel performance which saw them come within 0.7 seconds of a maiden FIA World Rally Championship victory, when the team tackles Vodafone Rally de Portugal next week.
Elfyn Evans and Dan Barritt, were blisteringly fast last time out at Rally Argentina - setting the highest number of fastest stage times on an event this year and coming within a whisker of a debut WRC win.
They led for all but two stages, surprised many with their pace and proved that the partnership will be a competitive force this season.
Some of the roads in Portugal next week are expected to have similar soft surfaces to Argentina, but the stages are slower, more technical and littered with rocks at the side of the road. Second pass becomes badly rutted and cars pull out even more rocks which can damage both wheels and tyres.
DMACK has again nominated the soft compound GS62 version of its DMG+2 gravel tyre as the main choice for the Porto-based event. WRC crews will have a maximum of 28 over the weekend while WRC 2 drivers will have access to 26 DMG+22 tyres, designed specifically for R5 cars.
As one of the original rounds of the inaugural WRC in 1973, Rally Portugal is steeped in history and attracts huge numbers of spectators. The route runs to the north of the service park in Matosinhos and the iconic Fafe test on Sunday, with its famous jump, is set to attract tens of thousands of fans.
Dick Cormack, DMACK managing director, said: "Portugal is a tough rally and always throws up some challenging conditions. We proved in Argentina that our gravel products are very competitive and we will be aiming to replicate that performance. However, the stages are technical and second pass can become pretty rough and rutted."
Elfyn Evans, DMACK WRC driver, said: "The overall package worked really well in Argentina and the plan in Portugal is just to push as hard as we can again and put in the best performance possible. We had a positive run in Argentina but that hasn't changed anything - we go to Portugal to do our best and aim as high as possible."
Evans Denied Victory By Less Than A Second | 30 April 2017
Elfyn Evans and Dan Barritt had led the fifth round of the FIA World Rally Championship since the second stage on Friday but, in a dramatic final-stage twist, they clipped a bridge just kilometres from the end and dropped to second overall.
It was a momentous event, however, for the British DMACK crew who used the DMG+2 GS62 tyre to set a pace that left more experienced competitors in their wake. They stormed through the opening day of the event and put in an untouchable performance to win six stages and hold an overnight lead of 55.7 seconds.
It was DMACK's best-ever day in the WRC as Evans powered his M-Sport Ford Fiesta WRC into a commanding position as other drivers faltered on the rough gravel stages around the Santa Rosa de Calamuchita valley.
Maximising the superior performance of their soft compound tyres, they continued to set the pace on Saturday on some of the toughest conditions in the championship. Another stage win took their total to seven, the highest number scored on an individual rally by any driver this season.
Then a misunderstanding with a pacenote on stage 12 forced Evans to slide wide and he picked up a puncture. There was further drama when the rear diffuser ripped off after a heavy landing, affecting the handling in the rear of the car, and Evans inevitably dropped further time.
They took a slender 11.5 second advantage into the final day today but temporary loss of brakes and an overheating engine meant they held a 0.6 second lead going into the final stage over the iconic El Condor mountain pass.
After edging ahead at the halfway point, Evans clipped a bridge and lost just enough time to see his lead turn into a 0.7 second deficit - his and DMACK's dream of a debut WRC victory slipped away. The second place equalled DMACK's best finish in the championship and signalled Evans' intention to chase his maiden win this season.
Dick Cormack, DMACK managing director, said: "It has been an incredible weekend on probably the toughest and most challenging event in the WRC. Elfyn and Dan produced a stunning performance this weekend and it is extremely reassuring to know we have the complete package to challenge for victory on all of the gravel events this season. We look forward to taking the battle to Michelin in Portugal."
Elfyn Evans said: "It's been a milestone event in my career. We are obviously disappointed at not sealing our first win in the WRC but this weekend has made me even more determined. We've picked up so much from this rally, I know I have the pace to challenge at the top now and the experience will help me to improve even further."
Mechanical problems halt Elfyn Evans' Challenge | 9 April 2017
Scoring three fastest stage times on the roads of Rallye Monte Carlo in January, Elfyn Evans and Daniel Barritt came to the event searching for another strong display. But on only the second stage on Friday, their M-Sport Ford Fiesta WRC lost hydraulic pressure - forcing Evans to limp through the remaining day's three stages with limited use of the car's differentials and gearbox.
He dropped back to 18th and ploughed further down the classification on Saturday after sliding off the road and getting stuck on the outside of a left corner. It was a rally to forget for the pair but they did complete two long stages to provide the DMACK technicians with valuable comparison data and feedback.
The new-generation DMT-RC22 had been designed for 2017's new high-powered rally cars with a blend of both durability and performance - to tackle the expected 80km competitive loops of this ruthless rally. They were a big step forward from last season and upgrades are already planned to further improve the pace for the next sealed surface event in Germany.
There was further positive news from the opening round of the 2017 FIA Junior World Rally Championship, where DMACK is both official partner and tyre supplier. The new 16" DMT-RC2 proved ultra-competitive for the Ford Fiesta R2 cars - promoting DMACK as a leading supplier of competitive asphalt products for smaller front-wheel-drive cars.
Boasting 10 of the world's top young rally talent, the Junior category was won by Spain's Nil Solans with Nicolas Ciamin second and Terry Folb third.
Dick Cormack, DMACK managing director, said: "We have made some steps forward compared to 2016. The focus was very much on durability due to the forecasted 80km loops and new WRC cars, so when the loops were reduced to around 65km it didn't work in our favour. We already have upgrades planned as we continue development, it's just a shame Elfyn was unable to get more stages completed because of the various problems."
Elfyn Evans, DMACK WRC driver, said: "This has always been one of my favourite events so it's disappointing not to have been in a position to have challenged for a strong result. We had problems with the car on the opening day and the mistake yesterday, so it's just not been our rally. It's not been a wasted weekend, we've learnt a lot and collected important information that we can use to be stronger at the next asphalt event. Now, the focus is very much on Argentina."
Elfyn Evans finalises preparation with test in Corsica | 31 March 2017
Next week's Tour de Corse, the first all-asphalt round of the 2017 FIA World Rally Championship will see British tyre manufacturer DMACK roll out its final new tyre for the WRC season. The company has a new hard compound H6+ version of its DMT-RC22, packed with performance upgrades, for drivers competing in WRC and WRC 2.
The iconic island event is also the first round of the FIA Junior World Rally Championship, where DMACK is official partner and tyre supplier.
After setting three fastest stage times on the asphalt roads of Rallye Monte Carlo in January, Elfyn Evans and Daniel Barritt will be aiming for another strong display in their M-Sport World Rally Team-entered Ford Fiesta WRC.
Evans has topped the time-sheets on six occasions already this year, getting DMACK's seventh consecutive WRC season off to a best-ever start. Next week's arduous asphalt adventure will see the Welshman use DMACK's DMT-RC22 tyres in S6+ and H6+ compounds.
Evans scored his best-ever WRC finish of second on this event in 2015 and tested in Corsica last week to finalise preparations and find the optimum set-up with the new hard compound tyre. All WRC drivers have a maximum allocation of 32 tyres over the weekend, while WRC 2 and R5 drivers have 30.
Meanwhile the successful Drive DMACK Fiesta Trophy, which ran over three seasons, will effectively become the new Junior WRC this season. With DMACK offering the huge prize of seven WRC 2 events, the series has attracted an initial entry of 10 of the world's top young rally talent.
The aspiring stars will take to the first of six rounds at the wheel of identical Ford Fiesta R2T rally cars, equipped with a completely new range of DMACK tyres. They will debut DMACK's new 195/50R16 DMT-RC2, with design influenced by the company's WRC tyre, and have two compounds available.
Dick Cormack, DMACK managing director, said: "We gathered a lot of information and experience from last year's event and we come to Corsica well prepared with a totally new tyre. We've focused on upgrades in the construction and compounding so we hope to see a significant gain in performance from 2016."
Elfyn Evans, DMACK WRC driver, said: "Corsica is always a challenging event but it's one where we've traditionally had strong results. It helps a lot that the route is so similar to last year and that we competed there just six months ago. The weather could again play a big part over the weekend, but either way we are still ready and looking forward to the challenge."
Elfyn Evans finishes ninth despite engine penalty | 12 March 2017
DMACK took its first gravel stage victories of the 2017 FIA World Rally Championship season this weekend, on the debut of its new range of upgraded gravel rally tyres.
Brits Elfyn Evans and Daniel Barritt used the new DMG+2 tyres to set a string of top times across the tough gravel roads of Rally Guanajuato Mexico, allowing DMACK to once again demonstrate its world-leading performance and set fastest times on three of the 18 special stages.
The more-powerful 2017-specification world rally cars were expected to demand greater tyre durability, especially on gravel, and DMACK ramped up the performance of its new products. First-up was a new innovative construction, improving sidewall stiffness, adding precision and making the tyre more robust.
DMACK also upgraded its hard and soft compounds to deliver both greater endurance and enhanced performance with the use of state-of-the-art compounding and advanced rubber components.
Evans' rally got off to the worst possible start on Wednesday. After pre-event shakedown, the engine in his M-Sport Ford Fiesta WRC expired and had to be changed - he was handed a five-minute time penalty and dropped to last place before the rally had even started.
Rally Mexico kicked off with a day trip to Mexico City's Zocalo Square for two spectator-packed stages and Evans set about clawing the time back. When the real competition started in the mountains above Leon on Friday, he finished second on three stages and scored his first gravel stage win of the season - despite an overheating engine slowing his charge.
Adding two more stage victories on Saturday, Evans and Barritt miraculously climbed to ninth after three full days of action across the high-altitude Mexican roads.
Alongside tyres for top-class WRC cars, DMACK has also developed a totally new range of DMG+22 gravel products dedicated for R5 cars competing in WRC 2. Local hero Benito Guerra used both hard and soft compound tyres on his Fabia R5 over the weekend to score DMACK's first podium of the season in the category.
Hot temperatures mixed with tropical rain showers made conditions, and tyre choices, an even greater challenge. The Rally Mexico route climbed to 2737m and that high altitude meant engines struggled to breathe with power reduced by around 20 per cent.
Dick Cormack, DMACK managing director, said: "It's been a positive weekend and we've again shown that the DMACK tyre can be competitive alongside Michelin. We're really pleased with the performance of the new gravel range and encouraged that we've scored three fastest times on the first gravel event of the season. Elfyn and Dan have again delivered another solid performance in tough conditions."
Elfyn Evans, DMACK WRC driver, said: "Overall I'm pretty happy with the performance this weekend. We've been competitive, scored three fastest times and got valuable mileage during our first time on gravel with this car. It's been a tricky weekend, having to run first on the road, but we've definitely made the most of it and have good confidence for the next gravel rally in Argentina."
Elfyn equals his best result in Sweden | 12 February 2017
The second round of the series at Rally Sweden this weekend saw Elfyn Evans and co-driver Daniel Barritt storm home in sixth, equalling their best finish in Sweden, after an extremely positive weekend.
After setting three fastest stage times on the season-opening Rallye Monte Carlo last month, Evans and Barritt were on confident form and immediately settled into a strong pace on Friday's full day of opening action around Torsby.
But Evans ran slightly wide on a medium-speed, right corner on stage four and his Ford Fiesta WRC ploughed into a snow bank - smashing a chunk out of the rear wheel in the process. He was forced to limp to the end of the stage and dropped back to 12th place.
However, despite being slowed by running near the front of the field for two days and losing more time today when the engine dropped down on power for an entire stage, the pair mastered the ultra-fast, frozen forest roads, climbing their way back up to sixth place.
Benefitting from a new directional tread pattern, their DMG-ICE2 tyres also made their mark on the event. Armed with 384 metal studs in each tyre, and using upgraded technology which resulted in an unrivalled level of stud retention, they provided incredible grip and traction by biting into the solid ice-covered stages.
The performance was a significant leap forward for DMACK and signalled the firm's intention to target front-running pace on all events and surfaces this season.
Rally Sweden once again saw action cross into Norway and finished this afternoon in Torsby after 17 competitive stages and 300km of action on the ice-packed roads.
Evans holds sixth place in the overall championship standings as the action moves to the high-altitude, gravel stages of Rally Mexico in March.
Dick Cormack, DMACK managing director, said: "In general, we were very happy with the performance of our new DMG-ICE2 tyres and have showed a very competitive pace once again with the new cars when on a level playing field. The stud retention and tyre performance was extremely good all event, however, Elfyn's mistake on Friday meant he lost road position and ended up running behind the narrower world rally cars."
Elfyn Evans, DMACK WRC driver, said: "Overall it's been an encouraging weekend after having limited testing before the rally. Our pace was strong on the first day but unfortunately the mistake dropped us time and also meant we were disadvantaged by running at the front of the field. However, it's another good haul of points, we are sixth in the championship and I'm confident as we head to the more traditional gravel events."
Elfyn joins DMACK In 2017 WRC Campaign | 09 January 2017
British tyre manufacturer DMACK will continue to compete at the pinnacle of world motorsport for the seventh consecutive season, with confirmation that it will contest the 2017 FIA World Rally Championship.
Heading the challenge for the DMACK World Rally Team will be 28-year-old Welshman Elfyn Evans in a 2017-specification Ford Fiesta WRC. Reigning British Rally Champion Evans will be reunited with long-term English co-driver Daniel Barritt - making it a truly British team.
Evans has had a short but successful partnership with DMACK, lifting the 2016 British Rally Championship title after winning five of the seven rounds and taking overall victory at the Bettega Memorial rally last month.
He will be at the wheel of M-Sport's groundbreaking Ford Fiesta WRC and will be nominated as M-Sport's third points scoring driver when the series kicks off with the iconic Rally Monte Carlo. The pair will finalise their preparations with a pre-event test in France on Friday 13 January.
DMACK will also continue its WRC 2 seven-round programme for the winners of last year's Drive DMACK Fiesta Trophy. Champion Osian Pryce from Wales will be joined by Finland's Max Vatanen and Northern Irishman Jon Armstrong - all three sharing the prize drives in an M-Sport Fiesta R5.
The Drive DMACK Fiesta Trophy, which has seen DMACK provide the biggest prize in world rallying to the world's best young talent for the past three years, is set to become the FIA Junior WRC this season.
Comprising six rounds of the WRC, drivers from around the world will compete in identical Fiesta R2T cars run by M-Sport - again battling for the Drive DMACK prize of a full season in WRC 2.
DMACK will compete alongside Michelin as approved WRC tyre manufacturers for the seventh consecutive season. Last year was the firm's most successful season, scoring 30 fastest stage times and leading two rallies outright after an intense 15-month period of technical development.
For 2017, DMACK will continue to supply its DMACK Grippa tyre range with performance upgrades to suit both WRC and WRC 2 competitors. The asphalt tyre has a revised tread pattern, profile and compounds while the successful gravel tyre benefits from performance enhancements including a run-flat construction.
Both the Monte Carlo and Sweden winter tyres have been completely redesigned with new tread patterns and studding systems.
DMACK's 2017 season kicks off with Rally Monte Carlo which blasts away from Casino Square in Monaco on Thursday 19 January.
Dick Cormack, DMACK managing director, said: "Last year was pivotal in DMACK's history - from both a performance and technical development aspect. Our small but extremely focused team has made huge strides forward and we're determined to maintain that progression this season.
"Elfyn has been a great ambassador for DMACK when dominating the British championship and I'm confident his hunger for success will shine through this year."
Elfyn Evans, DMACK WRC driver, said: "I'm really excited to be back driving a WRC car again at an exciting period for the sport with the new generation cars - and I'm thankful to DMACK for the opportunity. I've really enjoyed working with them over the last 12 months and being part of the development of new 2017 products.
"Being away from the top level for a season has been really hard, but it's made me more motivated and determined to make the most of this opportunity."
Elfyn wins the 2016 British Rally Championship title | Tue 06 September 2016
Elfyn Evans and Craig Parry were provisionally crowned 2016 MSA British Rally Champions after sealing a commanding victory on a difficult Ulster Rally. The Welsh pair celebrated their fourth overall rally win from five finishes to move into an unbeatable position in the series with one round still remaining.
Elfyn followed in the footsteps of his father Gwyndaf, who won the British Rally Championship exactly 20 years ago. Using DMACK's range of recently launched Tarmac rally tyres, he and Craig finished over a minute ahead of the competition after winning half of the rally's 14 demanding special stages.
Based in Londonderry, the Ulster Rally took in a range of dirty and slippery country rounds and mountain passes. But the mixed and constantly changing weather conditions meant that the road conditions ranged from dry to full wet with gravel and mud making them treacherously slippery.
The complete range of DMACK options from wets, extra soft, soft and medium compound tyres were used across the weekend to tackle the tough stages. However, Evans mastered the conditions better than most and held a slim 4.5 second lead after the opening day's six stages south of Derry.
He and Craig then stepped up the pace in their Autotek-run Ford Fiesta R5 and held a 50-second advantage going into the final loop of three stages. They cruised through the abrasive mountain tests to take a commanding victory and seal a sensational British title for DMACK.
Elfyn Evans said: "It feels really good to win the BRC title in style with one round still remaining but it was a difficult event and hard to concentrate on the job in hand. The rally was really tough, probably the hardest of the season with the weather changing all the time. To win the rally and the championship is very special, especially as it was 20 years since my father was champion."
Glenn Patterson, DMACK British Rally Team manager, said: "Winning the championship is certainly the highlight of a strong season after a number of unbeatable performances from Elfyn and Craig. This rally was difficult, unpredictable and a huge challenge but we made the right choices and the full suite of tyres worked remarkably well. Taking the victory here was certainly a real team effort."