Thu 15 Feb 2024

Lappi quickest on WRC return

Hyundai Motorsport’s Esapekka Lappi showed no signs of rust in his first start of 2024, setting the quickest time on Thursday morning’s Rally Sweden shakedown.

Beginning his 2024 part-programme against the snowy backdrop of north-east Sweden, Lappi set the benchmark time of 2min 45.9sec, 0.4sec ahead of M-Sport Ford’s Adrien Fourmaux.

Lappi achieved the time on his third and final run of the 5.42-kilometre test, while team-mate Ott Tänak in an identical Hyundai i20 Rally1 rounded out the top three, 0.2sec down on Fourmaux.

Following two runs, it had been 2023 world champion Kalle Rovanperä who was top of the leaderboard and, despite Sweden marking his first start of 2024 after forgoing last month’s Rallye Monte-Carlo, the Finn was content on not going for a third run. His time from his second run was still good enough for fourth overall.

"It's nice to be back," the 23-year-old acknowledged. "It was not a long break, but it makes you more excited to be back. Let's hope the weather is on our side so we can enjoy the rally and hopefully get a good result."

Belgian Thierry Neuville, who will lead out on the road on Friday as championship leader, rounded out the top-five with the third Hyundai, despite also only opting for two runs.

Following Thursday morning’s hit out, action begins in earnest on Thursday evening with a quickfire romp around Umeå Sprint – a fan favourite stage close to the centre of the Rally Sweden host city.

Starts: Thursday, July 18, 2024 at 4:31:00 AM
Starts: Friday, July 26, 2024 at 7:00:00 AM
Starts: Saturday, July 27, 2024 at 6:00:00 AM