Latvia ERC: Esapekka Lappi dominates final day

Skoda's rising Finnish star Esapekka Lappi clinched his second victory in the revamped European Rally Championship with a win in Latvia's Rally Liepaja

Latvia ERC: Esapekka Lappi dominates final day

Lappi had hunted down and overhauled surprise early leader Vasily Gryazin on Saturday, only for the 20-year-old Russian to fight back first thing on Sunday morning and immediately reclaim the lead.

That prompted a firm response from Lappi, who proceeded to blitz all rivals over the rest of the morning - topping SS9 by 9.6 seconds even though he had a 360-degree spin mid-stage. His final victory margin was 34.7s.

But Lappi's win was not sufficient to earn the ERC's first Ice Masters title, which ended up being decided over two rallies rather than the planned three due to the Sibiu Rally's postponement.

With the Ice Masters scores including bonus points for individual stage results as well as overall finishing positions, Robert Kubica emerged as champion thanks to the points he accrued on his victorious one-off outing in Austria last month, an event Lappi did not contest.

Gryazin soon switched focus to securing the first ERC podium of his fledgling career, which he managed despite his Sports Racing Technologies Ford Fiesta getting stuck in fourth gear on the penultimate stage.

A rapid gearbox change at the service before the last stage ensured he made it to the end.

Watch Rally Liepaja highlights on AUTOSPORT's rallying page

Craig Breen was a distant third. He was rarely happy with his Sainteloc Peugeot 207's set-up on its final appearance before the 208 T16 arrives, but was still able to keep 2013 Rally Poland winner Kajetan Kajetanowicz at bay as the gap between them ebbed and flowed.

Sepp Wiegand recovered from a hesitant start to take fifth place in the other factory Skoda Fabia, having been as low as 22nd early on.

After taking his maiden World Rally Championship podium with second in Monte Carlo, Bryan Bouffier had an unhappy return to the ERC.

He won the opening stage but then had to retire after a mistake on SS2 damaged his PH Sport Citroen's radiator.

Leading finishers after SS12:

Pos  Driver                Team/Car               Time/Gap
 1.  Esapekka Lappi        Skoda                2h13m11.5s
 2.  Vasily Gryazin        SRT Ford                 +34.7s
 3.  Craig Breen           Sainteloc Peugeot      +1m36.8s
 4.  Kajetan Kajetanowicz  M-Sport Poland Ford    +2m35.5s
 5.  Sepp Wiegand          Skoda                  +3m16.1s
 6.  Janis Vorobjovs       Mitsubishi             +5m42.6s*
 7.  Vitaliy Pushkar       Boar Mitsubishi        +6m50.8s*
 8.  Stanislav Travnikov   Prospeed Mitsubishi    +7m15.9s*
 9.  Martynas Samuitis     Wellman Mitsubishi     +7m23.2s*
10.  Jan Cerny             Czech Peugeot          +8m37.2s**

* Production class
** Junior class
shares
comments
Latvia ERC: Esapekka Lappi takes lead from surprising Vasily Gryazin
Previous article

Latvia ERC: Esapekka Lappi takes lead from surprising Vasily Gryazin

Next article

Peugeot dismisses 208 T16 rally car delay talk, confirms Acropolis

Peugeot dismisses 208 T16 rally car delay talk, confirms Acropolis
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