After winning every stage in the opening two legs, the young Finn eased his pace today. But having restarted with a lead of over four minutes, his advantage soared as second-placed Sepp Wiegand encountered problems.
The German dropped nearly 10 minutes in SS13 when his Fabia’s gearbox jammed and he could not select a gear. It promoted Robert Barrable back to second in a Ford Fiesta RRC, with Wiegand in third, more than 15 minutes behind Lappi.
The consolation for Wiegand was that he retains the championship lead.
The result made up for a disappointing start to the season for Lappi, who retired on only the second stage of Rallye Monte-Carlo in January.
“An almost perfect weekend – those are the words to describe it!” he said. “I had a few problems today with the car but the team fixed it. I think we did a good job. Monte-Carlo was a big disappointment but we’ve covered that and moved on.”
Barrable’s only problem was a puncture yesterday afternoon and the Irishman was delighted with his maiden appearance in the category.
“I thought a result like this would be way out of perspective, but I kept my head clean. We were nice and comfortable and only made one mistake all weekend, which is really good considering how tough the stages were,” he said.
Peruvian Nicolas Fuchs finished fourth in a Mitsubishi Lancer Evo X ahead of Abdulaziz Al-Kuwari, the winner at the previous round in Mexico, in a Fiesta RRC and Robert Kubica’s Citroen DS3 RRC.
Kubica’s WRC debut generated huge interest and the Pole was second before retiring from the first leg when he ran out of tyres after a string of punctures. He was sidelined again yesterday with hydraulic problems, which affected the paddle shift gear change, for which he has special dispensation to use because of his hand injury.
2012 FIA Academy winner Elfyn Evans retired his Fiesta RRC from second yesterday morning, but returned today under Rally 2 rules and won all four stages.