Lappi in control in Rally Finland

2017-07-29 22:08:06

Esapekka Lappi regained the lead of Rally Finland this afternoon, but at the expense of teammate Jari-Matti Latvala who was forced into a crushing retirement when his Yaris WRC ground to a halt on the second run through the Ouninpohja stage. After a string of five fastest times Latvala looked firmly in control and on course for a fourth home victory, but an unconfirmed technical problem not only robbed him but also saw Toyota lose a potential one-two-three on its home event.

"I've never felt so disappointed when I'm leading the rally, I didn't want to lead like this and am still disappointed for Jari-Matti," said Lappi, last year's FIA WRC 2 Champion who is now 49.1 seconds clear. "But it wasn't my fault the car broke down so I need to enjoy this moment; it's something amazing. I need to concentrate and keep my head cool."

The young Finn now has just four stages and 33.84 kilometers between himself and a maiden WRC victory in only his fourth event in a world rally car.

Having dropped behind Juho Hanninen this morning, Teemu Suninen moved into third following Latvala's retirement and then powered ahead of him in SS20 when his rival had a problem with the front anti roll bar. He is however just 4.3 seconds ahead of Hanninen who is also being chased down by Elfyn Evans. The Welshman is only 1.3 seconds adrift of the final podium position, setting up a titanic battle over Sunday's closing stages.

Evans has enjoyed a great run this afternoon, finding better grip in places and taking the final stage win this evening. Behind him, Craig Breen continues to head the assault for Citroen and is fifth overnight. The Irish driver, who finished on the podium last year, has had a better day but is being hunted down by Thierry Neuville, who is pushing hard to gain as many points as possible following Ogier's accident on Friday morning. Ott Tanak had a half spin early this afternoon and is seventh, comfortably ahead of Kris Meeke who continues to have a difficult event and rounded the day off with a puncture. Dani Sordo is ninth and Mads Ostberg 10th, the Norwegian nearly going off in the final stage.

The FIA WRC 2 Championship category is convincingly led by Jari Huttunen, the Finn winning three more stages this afternoon. He is over two minutes ahead of Quentin Gilbert. Nicolas Ciamin continues his fine run in the Junior WRC Championship and the Frenchman is more than a minute and a half ahead of Emil Lindholm.