Esapekka Lappi chases a second consecutive WRC 2 victory at this week’s ADAC Rallye Deutschland (18 - 21 August) to fire renewed momentum into his title aspirations.
The Finn was well down the standings until he took maximum points on his home round last month to climb to fourth. With none of his rivals ahead able to pick up points at the opening all-asphalt round of the season, the way is open for Lappi to charge further up the order.
Ironically one of the biggest obstacles to his hopes comes from Skoda Motorsport team-mate Jan Kopecký, who led from start to finish to win by more than four minutes last year.
“Jan is just one of many favourites for the win. You also have the German and French drivers, who are traditionally very quick at asphalt rallies. I want to put on as good a show as possible and score as many world championship points as I can,” said the Fabia R5 pilot.
Absent leader Elfyn Evans cannot lose his points lead here but a string of asphalt experts will offer a strong challenge to Lappi and Kopecký.
Local fans will back Armin Kremer and Fabian Kreim (both Fabia R5s) while Frenchman Quentin Gilbert (DS 3 R5) will chase his first podium since the season-opening Rallye Monte-Carlo.
“We’re dreaming of a top-three finish,” confirmed Gilbert. “Coming home in the top five would already be almost as good as a victory, but clinching third place would be a really super reward for everybody in the DG Sport team.”
Others likely to feature strongly include French trio Julien Maurin (Fabia R5), Yoann Bonato and Pierre-Louis Loubet (both DS 3 R5) as well as Belgian Ghislain De Mevius (Fabia R5).
Competing in Germany, but unable to score as the rally is not one of their nominated rounds, are title challengers Teemu Suninen and Pontus Tidemand.