Wed 17 May 2023

Lappi: Portugal performance my best with Hyundai

Esapekka Lappi has touted his performance at last week’s Vodafone Rally de Portugal as his finest since joining Hyundai Motorsport at the beginning of the year.

The laid-back Finn secured his second consecutive podium behind the wheel of an i20 N Rally1, claiming a commendable third-place finish on the rough gravel stages at round five.

His weekend was not without drama, however, as the car began emitting smoke at the end of Sunday’s Wolf Power Stage. Luckily for Lappi and co-driver Janne Ferm, the pair were able to limp the car back to Matosinhos and to the finish.

“Sweden was also good, but I think we did a really good weekend here [in Portugal],” he told WRC.com. “There were no big drops throughout this weekend and, yeah, for sure, this was the best performance I have had in this car.”

He continued, reflecting on the season so far: “Even since Monte-Carlo, the speed has been okay on most surfaces. We just had a bit of bad luck in Sweden and then a small error in Mexico, but now there were no mistakes and the result is good.”

Currently sixth in the drivers' championship standings, Lappi openly admitted the need to bridge the gap to the speed of his former team, Toyota Gazoo Racing, although the lack of a pre-event test before Rally Italia Sardegna (1 - 4 June) means that any significant updates to the car are unlikely.

“We still realise that we are behind Toyota at the moment in terms of pace, which is not ideal as there is not so much time before Sardinia,” he conceded.

“I think small things make a big difference, so I guess we are talking about small things, but it’s harder to find than you might think.  We discussed a lot at the end of last year about it with Hyundai and I strongly believe we can bring something up very soon based on these discussions.”

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