Valais ERC: Esapekka Lappi claims maiden win

Esapekka Lappi earned his first European Rally Championship win with a commanding performance on the Rally of Valais

Valais ERC: Esapekka Lappi claims maiden win

The rising Finnish star won two of the four stages on the final loop to add extra gloss to a victory that had looked almost certain from the start of the last day.

Factory Skoda driver Lappi was left 1m37.7s clear when nearest rival Andreas Aigner crashed out at the end of Saturday morning's loop, and added a fourth and a second on the other two afternoon stages to beat Olivier Burri by almost three and a half minutes.

Burri almost gifted second to the recovering Craig Breen on the final stage, dropping 50 seconds on the 16-mile Col des Planches run to end the rally just 8s clear of the Peugeot man.

Breen, whose victory hopes were dashed early on by a power steering problem and penalties, capped a strong recovery to the podium with a quartet of top three times on the final loop, rounding off a frustrating season third in the points but without a win.

His Sainteloc team-mate Jeremi Ancian stormed up the order in the closing stages after a puncture put him out of the frontrunning reckoning, and the Frenchman nicked fourth on the final run from Jaroslav Orsak.

Leading finishers after SS18: Pos Driver Team/Car Time/Gap 1. Esapekka Lappi Skoda 3h13m42.8s 2. Olivier Burri Zero4 Piu Ford +3m28.2s 3. Craig Breen Sainteloc Peugeot +3m36.2s 4. Jeremi Ancian Sainteloc Peugeot +6m21.1s 5. Jaroslav Orsak GPD Skoda +6m26.7s 6. Nicolas Althaus Lugano Peugeot +6m42.9s 7. Florian Gonan Lugano Subaru +7m57.7s 8. Pascal Perroud Lugano Peugeot +13m15.9s 9. Sylvain Michel Zero4 Piu Citroen +13m17.7s 10. Romain Salinas Renault +14m12.4s 
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Valais ERC: Esapekka Lappi set for win after Andreas Aigner crashes

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