Learning more about their EcoBoost-powered Ford Fiesta WRC and perfecting the set-up as the weekend progressed, the Finns got better and better with every kilometre and took that confidence forward into today’s final stage.
Locked in a final-day battle for the fifth place with Thierry Neuville, it was Lappi who came out on top – securing the positon and also taking an extra championship point for the fifth fastest time through the Power Stage.
Hoping for a better weekend, Teemu Suninen brought his Fiesta WRC home in eighth place. The young Finn has led this event last year, but a high-speed spin during Shakedown dented his confidence and he was tasked with opening the road on Saturday.
Not in a battle and with little to fight for, Suninen and co-driver Jarmo Lehtinen focused on getting through the stages with as much knowledge and experience as possible and will be keen for a comeback when the championship returns to Rally Mexico next month.
Team Principal, Richard Millener, said: “I think fifth place is a good result for us this weekend, and it was great to see Esapekka getting stronger and stronger as the event wore on. The more time he gets behind the wheel, the more confident he gets and that bodes very well for the future. He came out on top in the battle with Thierry today, and I think we’re all looking forward to seeing what he can do next time out in Mexico. Similarly, I think we’re all hoping Mexico will be the event that turns Teemu’s season around. He’s not had the best start, but we all know what he’s capable of and look forward to seeing him back on form.”
Esapekka Lappi (5th) said: “I need to be pleased with our performance this weekend. We’re not exactly where I wanted to be as I wanted to fight for the podium, but we’re not far away. We’re missing that last little bit, but it’s getting closer. We’ve made a good step forward – especially yesterday when the pace was really good – and that gives us some confidence going forward to Mexico. Everything is going well at the moment, so let’s see what we can do next.”
Teemu Suninen (8th) said: “This hasn’t been a good rally for us. It all started with a big moment on Shakedown and then on Friday I was just taking it a bit too carefully in places. We lost a few seconds there and just couldn’t get the time back. Then on Saturday we had to open the road and that made it even more difficult. Now we just need to analyse this rally and look forward to being better on the next one.”
Press release M-Sport Ford