Mon 18 Apr 2022

Lappi awestruck by Rally1 performance

Toyota Gazoo Racing star Esapekka Lappi admits he is blown away by the power of the new hybrid-era Rally1 cars on asphalt.

Lappi will compete on sealed-surface roads for the first time in a new-generation car at the Croatia Rally (21 - 24 April). He is sharing a GR Yaris with team-mate Sébastien Ogier this year and the Frenchman was in the seat for the mainly asphalt season-opening Rallye Monte Carlo.

The Finn tested in Croatia earlier this month and acknowledged that getting used to more than 500hp delivered by a blend of electric power and a traditional combustion engine was quite a job.

“Maybe first time ever in this sport that I don’t need to ask more power,” he smiled. “I am pretty satisfied with what we have.

“On this surface you really understand how much extra power you have with the hybrid boost and how impressive the acceleration actually is. It’s like a huge kick coming. On the wide road it’s fine, on the small road sometimes too much, at least at the beginning of the test day.”

Lappi did not compete at Croatia’s WRC debut 12 months ago and believes the low-grip speed tests around capital city Zagreb will be a hard nut to crack.

“There are two big challenges. The first one is the lack of experience from this rally. It always helps when you have done the stages once or twice,” he explained.

“Probably the bigger monkey on my shoulder is the dirt on the road. It has never been my favourite surface and in the past I have done some mistakes on this surface. I want to turn the page. I want to be better on this and I want to perform well to be in the fight.”

Lappi finished third in February in Sweden on his first appearance with the team since leaving at the end of 2018 after his first spell. He admits a repeat result in Croatia would be a tough ask.

“We need to forget what happened in Sweden,” he added. “I need to take the self-confidence from there but on the other hand I need to understand that although Sweden was a new rally for everyone, the conditions were something that I know and am good at.

“Now we are competing on the other side. I cannot probably set as high a target as I had in Sweden, but still I want to give a chance to myself to perform that well. I don’t want to give up already before the start.”

• Full coverage from the Croatia Rally will be available on WRC+ All Live here, including every stage broadcast as it happens as well as key interviews, features and expert analysis from the service park

Video: Croatia Rally trailer
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