Thu 09 Mar 2023

Early gravel experience gives Lappi confidence

Esapekka Lappi is determined to build on the pace he showed at last month’s Rally Sweden when the FIA World Rally Championship arrives at next week’s Guanajuato Rally México.

The Finn makes his gravel debut with Hyundai Motorsport in Guanajuato, but starts the season’s first longhaul round buoyed by his round two speed.

“We know that México is a very different kind of rally,” he said. “It’s gravel to start with and it’s quite a bit slower than Sweden, but the feeling was positive from [Sweden] and we know we have a fast car for those conditions. OK, it would have been nice to have finished right in the fight instead of having the problem we had [with the tyre delamination on Saturday afternoon], but I’m staying positive.”

Lappi admitted his early experience of an i20 N Rally1 set-up for loose surfaces was positive.

“The car is a bit different from last year in the feeling,” he said, “but this car doesn’t feel that difficult to drive. If I could change something maybe it would be with the differentials, but this could be something we need to do with homologation. I don’t know if it’s possible.

“The feeling is good with the team and this is what we will build on in México.”

The 32-year-old could do with a break in the Americas – he’s competed in Leon three times and has yet to finish in the top-10. His last outing in 2020 ended with his M-Sport Ford Fiesta WRC catching fire.

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