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HomeWRC RacingWRC - ESAPEKKA LAPPI CLOSES IN ON RALLY SWEDEN VICTORY

WRC – ESAPEKKA LAPPI CLOSES IN ON RALLY SWEDEN VICTORY

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By finishing leg two in entrance, the Hyundai i20 N Rally1 Hybrid driver has provisionally scored 18 WRC factors, which can be added to his season tally offering he reaches the rally end on Sunday afternoon underneath new guidelines for 2024.

Beginning Saturday’s motion main the ice and snow occasion by 3.2sec following Friday’s drama-packed first leg, Lappi got here underneath early stress when Takamoto Katsuta slashed his benefit to 0.9sec with a decided cost by the day-opening 15.65km of Vännäs.

However Lappi was left within the clear when Katsuta plunged his Toyota GR Yaris Rally1 Hybrid right into a snowbank 3.4km from the beginning of SS10 whereas urgent his Finnish rival for high spot.

Regardless of his comfy margin, which stood at 1min 31.6sec after SS10, Lappi admitted that discovering the stability between attacking and holding his lead was removed from simple. Like his fellow drivers, Lappi additionally needed to make preserving his tyre studs on more and more broken roads a key focus. However the one-time WRC occasion winner accomplished Saturday’s operating with out incident and can take a lead of 1min 06.3sec into Sunday’s deciding three-stage leg.

“It’s not been too dangerous,” Lappi mentioned of his Saturday efforts. “I’ve been making an attempt to save lots of the tyres the entire afternoon and nonetheless be good when it comes to the tempo. It’s [hard to measure the pace], I’m not so used to it so it’s not the simplest job on the planet. However it’s all underneath management.”

Whereas Lappi heads into Sunday together with his sights fastened on victory, Katsuta can be hoping to keep away from leaving Sweden empty handed. In addition to restoring his pleasure, the Japanese driver’s goal on Sunday are the seven factors up for grabs for topping leg three’s classification, plus the 5 factors on provide for the Wolf Energy Stage quickest time.

Of his Saturday morning exit, a dejected Katsuta mentioned: “We did an okay time on the primary one to achieve the time and a a lot nearer hole between me and EP [Lappi]. I needed to proceed pushing, possibly much more to achieve extra time however clearly I used to be making an attempt very exhausting, and [in] one nook I carried a bit an excessive amount of pace and snapped the rear and hit the snowbank. We have been caught and couldn’t get out.”

On a day that produced 5 stage winners from the seven scheduled phases and in addition marked M-Sport boss Malcolm Wilson’s 68th birthday, the group’s Adrien Fourmaux has excelled aboard his Ford Puma Rally1 Hybrid.

After demoting WRC2 chief Oliver Solberg within the battle for third on SS9, Fourmaux moved into second when Katsuta stopped on the following stage. The Frenchman additional underlined his potential by touchdown his fourth WRC profession stage win on SS11 to cement second place within the total order, which he maintained by the afternoon to land 15 interim factors. That was regardless of a scare within the closing kilometres of SS15 when he charged a snowbank after being distracted by his team-mate Grégoire Munster’s stricken Puma.

“I’ve seen the video [of Munster] and I assumed it was the nook earlier than,” Fourmaux mentioned. “Once I realised they have been there it was too late. What a great day, a rollercoaster, up and down, however I’m comfortable, P2.”

Having been hampered by opening the street for a lot of Friday afternoon, Elfyn Evans missed out on successful SS9 by 0.3sec earlier than his third-fastest time on SS10 elevated him onto the ultimate step of the provisional podium, 11.4sec behind Fourmaux. However after the Toyota driver “scooped a snowbank on the within of a nook” and “misplaced a great deal of energy” because of this, he headed again to noon service 16.2sec behind the flying Frenchman. With one eye on tyre stud retention by phases 12-15, the Welshman is 16.7sec down on Fourmaux in third.

Finishing Friday’s operating in eleventh total resulting from gas stress issues costing him 40 seconds in penalties, Thierry Neuville overtook Solberg for fourth on SS12 earlier than setting the quickest time on SS13 throughout a day spent perfecting the set-up of his Hyundai i20 N Rally1 Hybrid. He was quickest on the day’s ultimate three phases.

Behind fifth-placed WRC2 chief Oliver Solberg, Sami Pajari took second in WRC2 and sixth total when Georg Linnamäe spun his Toyota GR Yaris Rally2 nearing the end of SS11. The Estonian slipped to fourth at school following his second however demoted WRC3 champion Roope Korhonen on SS14 earlier than closing to inside 0.2sec of Pajari on SS15. Mikko Heikkilä, who recovered from a spin on SS15, and Lauri Joona full the highest 10.

Hyundai’s Ott Tänak and Toyota’s world champion Kalle Rovanperä restarted on Saturday morning after they crashed on Friday. Tänak gained SS9 from first on the street, 1.2sec quicker than Rovanperä. The Finn set the tempo on SS10, going 2.8sec faster than Tänak, who complained of an absence of visibility in a forest part. The duo discovered the street floor on the repeated phases a selected handful through the afternoon loop, with Rovanperä reporting a brake situation on the completion of SS14.

Sunday’s deciding leg begins with back-to-back visits to the considerably altered Västervik take a look at forward of the Wolf Energy Stage – the identical structure because the Umeå stage from Saturday night – from 12:15 native time.

A separate classification for the Sunday phases awards factors to the highest seven (7-6-5-4-3-2-1). The quickest 5 drivers on the Wolf Energy Stage additionally rating factors (5-4-3-2-1).

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