Esapekka Lappi closed on a third consecutive WRC 2 victory at Dayinsure Wales Rally GB on Saturday to preserve his world title dream.
The Finn delivered a measured drive through a foggy and muddy second leg in mid-Wales to lead championship rival Teemu Suninen by 55.6sec in a Skoda Fabia R5, with one day remaining in this penultimate round.
Having built a strong lead yesterday, Lappi was content to keep a watch on his rival’s pace. Suninen, also at the wheel of a Fabia R5, reduced his fellow Finn’s advantage to 34.3sec with two stage wins before Lappi responded with two of his own to restore the margin.
His only scare was when the engine stopped and would not restart. “It’s been a really, really good day. We’ve been driving at a good pace and sometimes more safe. It’s a great situation at the moment,” said Lappi, who won his last two outings in Finland and Germany.
Suninen was uncomfortable in the early-morning fog and came under attack from Lappi’s team-mate Pontus Tidemand. The Swede won four stages, halving the deficit to 12.3sec.
Jan Kopecký was fourth, more than a minute behind Tidemand, with Ford Fiesta R5 duo Marius Aasen and Osian Pryce completing the top six. Pryce fell back with broken power steering, allowing Ole Christian Veiby to close in.
Kevin Abbring retired his Hyundai i20 R5 for a second day with transmission problems en route to the opening stage, a legacy of his vain attempts to escape a ditch yesterday. Gus Greensmith withdrew when co-driver Katrin Becker’s rally-long illness proved too much.