M-Sport Ford debutant Esapekka Lappi enjoyed his best-ever Rallye Monte-Carlo finish after what he believed was one of the toughest alpine encounters he has tackled.
The Finn endured an awful start to his Fiesta career when leaves blocked the radiators and air intakes in the opening speed test, choking the engine of air and sending temperatures soaring. He recovered to finish fourth.
Lappi admitted the opening night problem, which cost almost 30sec, had no bearing on his final result as he finished almost three minutes adrift of third-placed Elfyn Evans.
“I didn’t have speed to fight for the three guys ahead, so whatever problems we had, without them still I wouldn’t be fighting with Elfyn or Seb. This is really the maximum what I can do,” he told wrc.com.
“I managed to concentrate the whole weekend only on myself and what we are doing and not to think too much about the others and where we are in the standings, so I’m feeling pretty good.
“It was one of the most challenging Rallye Monte-Carlos I’ve done. I haven’t done so many, but it wasn’t really clear on Sunday which tyres we should take, definitely slicks but which compound?
“Saturday was really tricky with all the melting ice and the safety crew notes. It wasn’t easy to predict which corners were going to melt so the pace notes were not perfect, which I can understand,” he added.
The season’s next asphalt round is not until October in Germany, but Lappi believes trying different suspension settings and centre differential mapping will bring benefits later on.
“Even though every other Tarmac event will be different from this one, at least we changed the car during the weekend a little bit and it showed me which kind of behaviour I will get when I’m changing some of the details,” he explained.