Fri 04 Mar 2022

Comeback star Lappi delighted by Sweden surprise

Esapekka Lappi admits he was surprised by his speed at last week’s Rally Sweden on his first outing with Toyota Gazoo Racing since 2018.

The Finn led the Umeå-based snow and ice event on the opening day and maintained his front-running prowess to finish third on the second round of the FIA World Rally Championship.

“It’s been amazing, let’s say, to come back and be on the pace from the first stage immediately,” Lappi confessed. “I was a bit surprised to be honest and I was more surprised I could stay on the pace more or less the whole weekend.

“But you can’t get too excited. To do one stage is OK, but to do one weekend like this is normally not easy after such a break. That’s why I was surprised by myself that I could really perform the whole weekend.”

Lappi had previously contested just one rally in a top-tier car since leaving M-Sport Ford at the end of 2020. This year he will share a GR Yaris Rally1 with Sébastien Ogier.

“After a long time away from the team and this level, it was really nice to come back and drive again like this,” he added.

“And I was very happy to see the finish of the event. It was a relief, it was quite a big fight with Thierry [Neuville] on the final day, but then I tried to make the smart decision and bring the points to the team for third place.”

Lappi, who won Friday morning’s Kamsjön test to relegate Ott Tänak from top spot, worked hard on finding the quickest set-up with the car.

“That was a little bit frustrating,” he said. “In the testing, the car felt good. But during the rally I felt there was a little something missing and the car wasn’t behaving exactly like I expected. When you know it’s not right and you can’t find the solution, it’s a little bit frustrating.

“But I’m sure we will get there. This is a great team and I’m very glad to be working with them. It would be nice to find some more speed and then look to challenge Kalle [Rovanperä]. Sure, this weekend his speed was crazy.”

Lappi is confirmed for the next WRC round of the season, the Croatia Rally (21 - 24 April).

Video: Rally Sweden - top drone highlights
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