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Thu 14 Jul 2022

Lappi: Patience key to Estonia success

Toyota Gazoo Racing star Esapekka Lappi says patience will be the key to a strong result at this week’s Rally Estonia (14 - 17 July).

Lappi completed five passes of Thursday morning’s shakedown and powered his GR Yaris machine into the top spot ahead of Thierry Neuville on the very last run. 

This season, the Finn is alternating drives with Sébastien Ogier on a partial programme for the Japanese manufacturer squad and Estonia marks his first WRC start since Rally Italia Sardegna at the beginning of June. 

He was without a drive in 2021 and, as such, didn’t contest the high-speed gravel fixture last year. Despite that, he remains relaxed about the challenge that lies ahead.

“I think that will be the biggest challenge,” Lappi agreed. “Stage two and three, we didn’t do them last year and it looks like they are some of the toughest on the route. 

“There are a lot of hidden corners inside the forest where you can’t clearly see where it starts to turn and that makes things really tricky in the car.

“At the same time, you have to be ‘on it’, so in these stages we probably will have some disadvantages. I’m pretty confident with the car, so let’s see what we can do,” he added.

Wet weather is expected at the Tartu-based counter for the first time in years. Rain left the shakedown damp and muddy, with similar conditions forecasted throughout the weekend. 

That’s good news for Lappi’s championship-leading team-mate Kalle Rovanperä, who opens the road on Friday - but he’ll start further down the order in ninth.

“The weather is going to make things interesting,” he explained. “We know how the surface is behaving on these kind of gravel rallies. I haven’t been here in the wet before, so I don’t know for sure, but I think it’s going to be good to be first on the road and then it will be getting worse. 

“There will be a lot of surprises coming with the way the grip is changing, so a steady pace can deliver in the end. We have to be patient.”

• Full coverage from Rally Estonia is 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.

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