Circuit of Ireland ERC: Esapekka Lappi stuns with day one lead

Rising Finnish star Esapekka Lappi rocked the Irish establishment with a stunning opening day to lead the European Rally Championship's Circuit of Ireland

Circuit of Ireland ERC: Esapekka Lappi stuns with day one lead

The Skoda driver put aside his lack of knowledge of the Northern Irish stages to reel off seven straight fastest times, building an 18-second advantage over Peugeot's Craig Breen.

Local hero Breen had been forced into an early third place before his team-mate Kevin Abbring damaged his radiator on SS6. The Dutchman's 208 T16 was sidelined one stage later.

There were no such dramas for Lappi, who admitted he had even surprised himself.

"I didn't expect this," he said "I just felt comfortable with the car all day.

"This morning was perfect, we could just fly over the bumps with no problems at all.

"At service, all we did was put some new tyres on and we were ready to go again."

Breen nibbled a tenth of a second out of Lappi's lead on the second run at Lough Henney before pulling four back on the day's penultimate test.

He further reduced that gap on Newtownards to arrive back in the Titanic quarter 12.6s behind the leader.

"It's been OK today," Breen said. "We lost the screen this morning and that meant the rear wing dropped down a bit and gave us less downforce - that didn't help.

"The afternoon has been really good. I'm not happy to be second, but I am absolutely loving this event."

Watch Circuit of Ireland highlights videos on the AUTOSPORT rallying page

Qualifying stage winner Robert Barrable is an increasingly distant third in his Ford Fiesta R5.

The WRC2 driver ends Friday 1m40.2s off the lead, but nine seconds ahead of Lappi's team-mate Sepp Wiegand. The German is all at sea trying to find his way over the bumpy asphalt roads.

Sam Moffett is running fifth on his Fiesta RRC debut, one place ahead of ERC regular Robert Consani.

Saturday's final day includes a further eight stages and 73 competitive miles.

Leading positions after SS10: Pos Driver Team/Car Time/Gap 1. Esapekka Lappi Skoda 59m11.2s 2. Craig Breen Sainteloc Peugeot +12.6s 3. Robert Barrable CA1 Ford +1m40.2s 4. Sepp Wiegand Skoda +1m49.0s 5. Sam Moffett Combilift Ford +2m05.5s 6. Robert Consani Delta Peugeot +3m05.4s 7. Neil Simpson Simpsons Skoda +3m53.2s 8. Daniel McKenna Greer Citroen +5m45.5s 9. Josh Moffett Combilift Mitsubishi +6m00.2s 10. Chris Ingram JB Malherbe Renault +6m50.5s 
shares
comments
Barrable starts Irish round of European Rally Championship on top

Previous article

Barrable starts Irish round of European Rally Championship on top

Next article

Circuit of Ireland ERC: Craig Breen forced to retire from second

Circuit of Ireland ERC: Craig Breen forced to retire from second
Load comments

About this article

Series ERC
Author David Evans
Ireland deserves a WRC round Plus

Ireland deserves a WRC round

Drivers are in accordance: Ireland should be in the World Rally Championship. DAVID EVANS followed the Circuit of Ireland and was left with no doubt that the drivers are right

ERC
Apr 23, 2014
Kubica's rally to recovery Plus

Kubica's rally to recovery

Robert Kubica's rally speed is obviously there - in abundance - but he's got to stop crashing. Charles Bradley went to the Azores to get the lowdown on the ex-F1 star's comeback trail

ERC
May 3, 2013
Why Kubica can win on ERC debut Plus

Why Kubica can win on ERC debut

Former GP winner Robert Kubica makes his international comeback this week in the Canaries Rally. And David Evans reckons he'll win aboard a Citroen DS3 RRC

ERC
Mar 21, 2013
Rallying's new era keeps the best of the old Plus

Rallying's new era keeps the best of the old

As the IRC to ERC transformation takes effect in Austria, David Evans is excited that the IRC's promotional strengths will carry over - but still wishes the WRC could get some of that magic

ERC
Jan 3, 2013
Farewell IRC, long live ERC Plus

Farewell IRC, long live ERC

As the Intercontinental Rally Challenge prepares for its swansong in Cyprus, David Evans recalls the shortlived series' heyday - and looks ahead to its European successor

ERC
Nov 1, 2012
The 2011 IRC season review Plus

The 2011 IRC season review

The fifth Intercontinental Rally Challenge was the best yet, and it was Skoda UK driver Andreas Mikkelsen who emerged as champion from a tense five-way shootout at the season finale. Matt Beer reviews the season

ERC
Nov 22, 2011
Who to watch in the Monte Carlo Rally Plus

Who to watch in the Monte Carlo Rally

This year is the Monte Carlo Rally's centenary and, just as in recent years, there's no shortage of World Rally Championship stars turning up to give the IRC regulars a run for their money

ERC
Jan 18, 2011
The top 10 IRC drivers of 2010 Plus

The top 10 IRC drivers of 2010

The competition didn't run as deep as it might have, but there was plenty of fight at the front with six of our top 10 winning rallies during the season. Matt Beer puts them in order

ERC
Nov 29, 2010