Mild weather made for a reduced schedule and challenging conditions, but the Finns held their own – managing their tyres as patches of gravel appeared through the ice and ensuring they kept the podium positions within sight.
Currently holding fifth place, Lappi and Ferm are just 6.6 seconds adrift of the top-three and there remains much to play for as we repeat the loop tomorrow.
Having led this event last year, Teemu Suninen was hoping for a similarly strong performance but the unfamiliar conditions made for a completely different rally and the young Finn finished the day in seventh place – albeit just 10 seconds shy of his team mate.
Partnered by experienced co-driver and former Rally Sweden winner Jarmo Lehtinen, Suninen will be looking to put today’s experience to good use and climb the leader board as the action continues tomorrow.
Team Principal, Richard Millener, said: “The competition is so close and the top-five are separated by just 20 seconds. We’ve not been the most competitive out there today, but we’re not too far away and Esapekka is just 6.6 seconds shy of the podium which isn’t bad at all. The pace was pretty good in the slower sections, but we still have some work to do on the faster roads and need to try to eliminate those little mistakes which can be so costly on a rally like this. That said, we’re not even at the halfway-point yet and anything can still happen so we’ll keep pushing and keep up the pressure.”
Esapekka Lappi (5th) said: “It’s been quite a consistent day for us. We can’t match the guys at the front which is a bit frustrating, but we are best of the rest and I’m happy with that. I’m really trying and was twice in the ditch already – losing a couple of seconds with that – but I feel that we can still improve. If we can make some small changes to the set-up then I think the pace can be better and tomorrow is a new day so for sure it’s not over yet. We’ll keep trying and keep pushing until the end.”
Teemu Suninen (7th) said: “The conditions have been quite challenging today with a lot of gravel making it tricky to judge the grip. We didn’t have the pace we wanted in the fast sections and that’s something we know we need to work on. But the pace was a lot better in the slower sections and we’ll keep pushing tomorrow.”
Press release M-Sport Ford