Saturday | 19 Nov 2016

Clean sweep keeps Lappi on title target

Just five stages stand between Esapekka Lappi and the FIA WRC 2 title after another dominant performance on Saturday's second leg of Kennards Hire Rally Australia.

The Finn's class lead was never threatened, and he brought his Skoda Fabia R5 back to parc fermé in Coffs Harbour with seven fastest times from the day's seven stages.

Lappi extended his advantage over Nicolas Fuchs from 2m12.8s to 3m59.3s, and has just 57km to go tomorrow. First or second place here will guarantee him the title.

"It's all going to plan, and there have been no problems, but it's not been so enjoyable to drive like this," said Lappi.

"We are not pushing hard and it's not easy to drive on the safe side. I've found it tricky to find a nice rhythm today but okay - no dramas."

Behind him, Fuchs had a trouble-free run in his Skoda Fabia R5. The Peruvian drove cautiously in the morning loop with pace notes he felt were too slow, but with the notes corrected he picked up speed in the afternoon.

Peugeot 208 driver Hubert Ptaszek began the leg just 6.6sec behind Fuchs and edged closer on the opening 50.8km Nambucca despite an off-road excursion into a ditch. But a right-rear puncture 6km before the end of SS15 cost him more than a minute and he will start Sunday's leg trailing Fuchs by 1m27.1s.

Qatar's Khalid Al-Suwaidi retired from today's competition en route to the first stage but is still classified fourth, more than 48 minutes behind Ptaszek.

Rally 2 restarter Jourdan Serderidis rounds off the WRC 2 runners, his Citroën DS 3 classified fifth, 17.4sec behind Al-Suwaidi.


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