Flying Finns Esapekka Lappi and Teemu Suninen enjoyed a battle royale in WRC 2 at PZM 73rd Rally Poland on Saturday with Lappi claiming a slender overnight lead.
Lappi gradually eroded Suninen’s advantage through this morning’s three speed tests in the far north of the country, trimming a 4.6sec deficit to 1.9sec. Lappi was unbeatable when the sandy stages were repeated, moving ahead of his fellow countryman to end with a 10.8sec lead.
“It was a good day, just one mistake in a junction. I gave it a go and it’s paying off. Tomorrow will be tough because Suninen is really, really fast and it’s not over yet,” said the Skoda Fabia R5 pilot.
Suninen, who inherited the lead from Pontus Tidemand yesterday evening when the Swede was sidelined with broken suspension, had a clear run in his Fabia R5 as he chased his third win of the season.
Both Finns gave best to Elfyn Evans this morning. The Welshman and championship leader won all three stages to close in on the Finns after overnight changes to the set-up worked wonders. But he could not find the same pace this afternoon and ended 15.8sec behind Suninen, a rear puncture adding to his difficulties.
A raft of late afternoon incidents transformed the bottom half of the top six. Quentin Gilbert survived engine problems to finish fourth while Nicolas Fuchs overcame a roll to take fifth ahead of local hero and European champion Kajetan Kajetanowicz, who enjoyed a stellar day to climb from 15th.
Karl Kruuda yielded fourth after stopping with mechanical problems in SS16, Pierre-Louis Loubet punctured as did Scott Pedder, who hit a rock after rolling earlier in the day. Marius Aasen rolled heavily [below] while Poland’s Hubert Ptaszek also retired.