WHY DRIVE DMACK?
Junior drivers are flocking to the Drive DMACK Trophy. By Jack Benyon
Adebate as old as time itself. Which championship is the best for junior drivers to strut their stuff ? In recent years, the Drive DMACK Trophy has been popular, and its appeal continues to grow despite going up against the WRC’S own Junior championship, JWRC.
So what is the DDT? It’s a single-make formula for the forests. M-sport’s Ford Fiesta R2T is the car of choice, and here’s the first major selling point of the championship: M-sport Poland, run by Maciej Woda, takes care of all the cars. It’s a truly arrive-and-drive format with the cars looked after by the same people. No chance for drivers to gain an advantage through bent cars as is accused in other championships.
One driver who has experienced the series for the past two years is Tom Cave and the 24-year-old believes that the format ensures parity and takes something off the driver’s plate.
“Everything is a lot more controlled with the Drive DMACK,” says Cave. “M-sport is very particular with the way it operates the whole championship with the cars and they are looked after to a very high standard. It’s one less thing for the driver to think about.”
Some onlookers have pointed to the fact that this takes away from a driver learning the engineering side of his art, but Junior British Rally Championship driver Meirion Evans believes that most of the JWRC drivers use teams to prepare their cars anyway. And he’s right. There aren’t too many times that a JWRC driver is forced in to changing a gearbox.
“A lot of boys that take part in the JWRC will have a mechanic on their car anyway,” explains Evans. “It’s rare they will do work themselves. In my position, I can do a lot of the work on the car myself but I still have a team to help me on the rallies.”
Yes, there are drawbacks to arrive and drive. First off, drivers don’t gain an asset as they are merely renting the car. There’s also the cost of tyres and repairs for the car. However, it isn’t built to be a series where the drivers would have a long-term future stay. This is simply to prove who’s the best, and give them an opportunity to graduate in the World Rally Championship as quickly as possible. After all, if a driver does well he’ll be in a funded WRC2 entry the year after. Cave reckons, as a financial proposition, the DDT is superior to the JWRC.
“It’s definitely put me on the map in the WRC,” says Cave. “Of course for this year my focus is on the British championship but for a young driver to go and establish themselves it’s the championship to go and do purely for the value for money.
“The value for money of the Drive DMACK outweighed what the JWRC was offering at the time I entered,” adds Cave. “You’re looking at a programme of around £130,000 to do the whole season in Drive DMACK but do JWRC you were looking at towards £200,000.
“In terms of what the championship offered, it was very good and it was a great way of gaining experience in the world championship in a competitive car. I was learning a lot and gaining a lot of experience.”
What the JWRC and DDT both offer is impressive prizes centred around campaigns in an R5 car in WRC2. However, the DDT is one less round – thus reducing cost – and, according to Cave, it offers a better overall prize.
“It is similar to the JWRC in terms of prize,” says Cave. “The car that you drive if you win the prize [Ford Fiesta R5] is a better package [than the JWRC’S Citroen DS 3 R5] so you go into the following year knowing you have the best package to use. On paper everybody knows that at the minute the Fiesta is more competitive than the Citroen.”
In the DDT, drivers will compete on five rounds of the World Rally Championship: Portugal, Poland, Finland, Germany, and Spain. That’s three gravel, one Tarmac and one mixed surface. A great combination for developing talent in a variety of conditions.
The champion wins a full year in WRC2, and this is where the scheme becomes relevant to the UK. The tyre manufacturer has developed a ladder leading from the British Championship, with the Junior British Rally champion earning a subsidised drive in the DDT for the following year. With that in mind, there’s a direct path into the WRC, and with DMACK now running a team in WRC for Ott Tanak, there’s every possibility that impressing the marque while competing could even land you a seat at the top of the sport.
The DDT has benefited in the previous two years thanks to the