Finland WRC: Lappi secures first win despite late drama

Toyota's rookie star Esapekka Lappi held on for his maiden WRC win in Rally Finland, despite sustaining rear-left wheel damage in the penultimate stage.

Finland WRC: Lappi secures first win despite late drama
Esapekka Lappi, Janne Ferm, Toyota Yaris WRC, Toyota Racing
Esapekka Lappi, Janne Ferm, Toyota Yaris WRC, Toyota Racing
Esapekka Lappi, Janne Ferm, Toyota Yaris WRC, Toyota Racing
Elfyn Evans, Daniel Barritt, Ford Fiesta WRC, M-Sport
Elfyn Evans, Daniel Barritt, Ford Fiesta WRC, M-Sport
Elfyn Evans, Daniel Barritt, Ford Fiesta WRC, M-Sport
Juho Hänninen, Kaj Lindström, Toyota Yaris WRC, Toyota Racing
Juho Hänninen, Kaj Lindström, Toyota Yaris WRC, Toyota Racing
Teemu Suninen, Mikko Markkula, Ford Fiesta WRC, M-Sport
Listen to this article

Lappi, contesting only his fourth event in the championship's top class, inherited a big lead on Saturday when experienced teammate Jari-Matti Latvala retired with an ECU issue.

The rookie had been managing his advantage at the top of the timesheets since, but had a scare on SS24, the second run through the 6.8km Lempaa stage.

Toyota reported, however, that his car was in good condition after the dented wheel was changed, and Lappi saw out the rally with no additional trouble, finishing 36 seconds in the clear.

Behind Lappi, the trio of M-Sport's Teemu Suninen, DMACK's Elfyn Evans and Toyota's Juho Hanninen had been locked in an ultra-close battle for second with two stages left.

Suninen, in his second main-class rally, looked set to pull away from the pair on SS24, but lost the car at high speed, sustaining a big hit to the front of his Ford Fiesta WRC and losing almost 20 seconds.

This left Hanninen and Evans to duke it out for runner-up, with the Toyota man entering the Power Stage - the 10km Oittila – a second ahead.

But a minor mistake from Hanninen early in SS25 allowed Evans to retake the advantage in the battle, and the Toyota man came up 0.3s short of beating the Welshman to runner-up.

Evans, in the end, claimed his third second-place finish in WRC, while Hanninen had to settle third and his maiden WRC podium.

Suninen brought it home in fourth, with Craig Breen finishing fifth as the lead Citroen.

Championship contender Thierry Neuville was sixth, the highest-placed Hyundai in what turned out a painful Rally Finland for the Korean maque.

With points leader Sebastien Ogier having exited the rally early, Neuville scored 11 points – eight for his finishing position and three for the Power Stage result – to draw level with the Frenchman. He has three 2017 wins to Ogier's two, meaning he now leads the title race on countback.

Ogier's regular-season teammate Ott Tanak took seventh, topping the Power Stage from Evans and Neuville.

Last year's Rally Finland winner Kris Meeke was a muted eighth for Citroen, ahead of Hyundai's Dani Sordo and the privateer Ford of Mads Ostberg.

Latvala returned to action on Sunday after his retirement on Saturday, but was only fourth through the Power Stage, picking up two points.

WRC2 also had a rookie Finn taking the honours in Jari Huttunen, who scored a comfortable win on his category debut.

shares
comments
Finland WRC: Lappi stays in front of three-way fight
Previous article

Finland WRC: Lappi stays in front of three-way fight

Next article

Rally Finland "a perfect weekend" despite only sixth, says Neuville

Rally Finland "a perfect weekend" despite only sixth, says Neuville
Why Monte Carlo success could spark another past master’s WRC revival Prime

Why Monte Carlo success could spark another past master’s WRC revival

Some 39 years on from his Monte Carlo Rally debut, World Rally Championship legend Francois Delecour continues to pick up silverware. Proving that age is purely a number, the 60-year-old's desire to compete against the WRC’s latest young talents could be the start of a new chapter in the Frenchman’s storied career

How fired-up Ogier became the WRC's ultimate Monte master Prime

How fired-up Ogier became the WRC's ultimate Monte master

He may only be contesting a part-time campaign in the World Rally Championship these days, but Sebastien Ogier underlined that he's lost none of his speed in the 2023 season opener. Storming to yet another victory on the Monte Carlo Rally, the eight-time world champion rewrote the history books again as Toyota served notice of its intentions with a crushing 1-2

WRC
Jan 23, 2023
How Lancia pulled off its famous Monte Carlo giantkilling Prime

How Lancia pulled off its famous Monte Carlo giantkilling

Audi should have been invincible in the snowy conditions that typically greeted the World Rally Championship paddock in Monte Carlo. But unexpectedly warm weather for the 1983 season opener, combined with some left-field thinking from the Lancia crew turned the tables. Forty years on, team boss Cesare Fiorio reflects on a smash and grab.

WRC
Jan 21, 2023
Why M-Sport has pinned all its efforts on a WRC reunion Prime

Why M-Sport has pinned all its efforts on a WRC reunion

M-Sport had a disastrous 2022 with its Rally1 Ford Pumas following Sebastien Loeb’s first-time-out win on the Monte. But now things are looking up with 2019 world champion Ott Tanak leading its attack, and the Cumbrian operation has optimism that it can challenge for a first title since Sebastien Ogier's departure at the end of 2018

WRC
Jan 19, 2023
The contenders seeking to take Rovanpera's WRC crown Prime

The contenders seeking to take Rovanpera's WRC crown

As Kalle Rovanpera begins his World Rally Championship title defence in Monte Carlo, the Finn knows he has a target on his back. But who is best placed to knock the Toyota ace off his perch?

WRC
Jan 19, 2023
Why Rovanpera is anticipating a fight to defend his WRC title Prime

Why Rovanpera is anticipating a fight to defend his WRC title

Question: what could be harder than becoming the youngest-ever World Rally champion? Answer: becoming the youngest-ever two-time World Rally champion. That's quite the challenge facing Toyota's Kalle Rovanpera in 2022, particularly against rejuvenated opposition in the second year of the WRC's hybrid regulations.

WRC
Jan 18, 2023
From F1 to WRC: Why Hyundai's new boss could be an inspired signing Prime

From F1 to WRC: Why Hyundai's new boss could be an inspired signing

OPINION: New Hyundai rally team boss Cyril Abiteboul admits he’s got a lot to learn, but his F1 experience and evident strengths could mean he turns out to be an inspired choice.

WRC
Jan 17, 2023
The ultimate rally car project the WRC is glad COVID killed Prime

The ultimate rally car project the WRC is glad COVID killed

Toyota was unstoppable in the 2021 World Rally Championship, with an excellent 75% strike rate from 12 rallies. But in a scary proposition for its rivals, the Japanese marque had built a car for the final year of the previous regulations set which it believes was much faster and could feasibly have crushed the opposition completely. Here the story of its mothballed world-beater.

WRC
Jan 1, 2023