Esapekka Lappi scored his first WRC 2 victory of the season on Sunday after dominating the WRC’s principal support category at Neste Rally Finland.
He led Teemu Suninen to a Finnish 1-2 having led from start to finish of the four-day forest road event. His winning margin was 41.7sec, both drivers at the wheel of Skoda Fabia R5 cars.
Lappi laid the foundations for victory in Friday’s first full day of competition. He won all but two of the 11 speed tests and measured his pace through the final two days.
Suninen, winner of the previous two rounds in Italy and Poland, came under intense pressure from Lappi’s Skoda Motorsport team-mate, Pontus Tidemand, during the final leg. They started the final stage separated by just 3.8sec but the Swede rolled early in the test.
His demise promoted Elfyn Evans into third. The series leader ran second for much of the early part of the rally before a power steering problem in his Ford Fiesta R5 relegated him to sixth. He steadily regained ground and kept his championship lead by two points from Suninen.
Karl Kruuda was on course for fourth but the Estonian retired in the final stage, hitting a hay bale and damaging his Fiesta's radiator. Henning Solberg inherited the position in a Fiesta R5, despite power steering issues today. Quentin Gilbert finished fifth in Citroën’s DS 3 with Marius Aasen completing the top six.
Pierre Louis-Loubet did not restart this morning after going off the road yesterday while Toyota Gazoo development driver Hiroki Arai retired after crashing his Fiesta R5 on his WRC debut.
Head to WRC+ to see the latest onboard and video reports from Neste Rally Finland.