Esapekka Lappi scored his second successive WRC 2 victory with a commanding performance at ADAC Rallye Deutschland.
Asphalt isn’t the Rally Finland winner’s favourite stage surface but he still guided his Skoda Fabia R5 to an impressive winning margin of 1m 07.4s after three days of competition.
Second place went to Lappi’s Skoda Motorsport team-mate, Jan Kopecky, while local hero Armin Kremer was third in his similar machine.
Kremer set the early pace on his home stages as Lappi suffered three spins and Kopecky dropped time with a puncture on the first day.
But, as things settled down and Lappi discovered a smooth and precise rhythm, a sequence of four fastest stage times on Saturday gave Lappi the lead. And he didn’t look back.
“It was not a perfect rally but it’s definitely a perfect result,” the Finn said at the finish. “Yesterday was the best day of my career on Tarmac and I was able to build up my confidence step-by-step.”
Kopecky’s pace – and fortunes – also improved after the opening day in Germany and he also edged his way past Kremer, this time on Saturday afternoon’s final 40km test, Panzerplatte Lang.
With Lappi holding such a big lead, Kopecky avoided the temptation to take big risks in a bid to catch his team-mate and duly settled for second place at the end of the Power Stage.
“I’m happy for sure,” he said. “We lost a lot of time with a puncture on Friday but we’re finally here in second. That’s good for me and a great result for the team.”
Kremer was 26.4s behind Kopecky, while Ghislain de Mevius, Pierre-Louis Loubet and Bernhard Ten Brinke completed the top six. Loubet was the only driver that wasn’t driving a Skoda Fabia R5.