Subscribe

Sign up for free

  • Get quick access to your favorite articles

  • Manage alerts on breaking news and favorite drivers

  • Make your voice heard with article commenting.

Autosport Plus

Discover premium content
Subscribe
WRC Rally Italy

Lappi's 'risky' set-up gamble paying off with WRC Sardinia lead

Hyundai World Rally Championship driver Esapekka Lappi believes a risky set-up gamble is paying dividends after ending Friday with the Rally Sardinia lead.

Esapekka Lappi, Janne Ferm, Hyundai World Rally Team Hyundai i20 N Rally1

The Finn revealed in the buildup to the rally that he intended to try an experimental set-up he’d discovered in testing prior to the event.

After winning Thursday night’s super special, Lappi started the day with a 0.2s lead over Toyota’s Sebastien Ogier. But he ended Friday morning 16.3s behind Ogier, electing for a more hard tyre focused strategy in the morning’s 49.9km Monte Lerno test.

However, in the afternoon Lappi fitted soft tyres which worked perfectly in the wetter conditions. This combined with his suspension set-up call helped the one-time WRC rally winner overhaul Ogier to lead at the end of the day by 0.1s, despite suffering a left-rear puncture in the second pass of Monte Lerno.

Asked if he felt his set-up gamble was paying off, Lappi said: “It looks like it. It is really working especially when it is really rough.

“I don’t know where I pulled that time on the short stage, it wasn’t like crazy driving. It was just clean all of the time. To be that much faster than Seb, I have to say the damper is really working.

“[The Monte Lerno stage] was quite a tricky stage. Most of the stage, the grip was fairly okay but then all of a sudden there was full mud.

“I would say there was 80% okay grip, but there was this other 20%. There was some moments, for sure.

“We had a small sacrifice with the tyres in the morning on the long stage, so now we have gained it back, but we have got to do it all again tomorrow.

“I hope tomorrow will be fully dry as I have more hard tyres and good road position, so I would like full dry weather please.”

Esapekka Lappi, Hyundai World Rally Team

Esapekka Lappi, Hyundai World Rally Team

Photo by: Austral / Hyundai Motorsport

Hyundai team principal Cyril Abiteboul praised Lappi for both his driving performance and his desire to push the team on set-up.

“It doesn’t matter what the lead is but it is good to be finishing in leading position, but we have been there before and we know it can stop very quickly," Abiteboul told Autosport.

"Hats off to Esapekka because he has been driving extremely well and it is good to see it working as he has been pushing his engineers with the set-up of the car, and taking some risk on the tyre side, which has put us in fairly good position for tomorrow.

“We are yet to win a rally this season so let’s stay positive but also realistic. We have a big decision to make on tyre strategy tonight with limited information on the weather.

“I think it is going to be bit more wet than today. I think soft will be a popular choice.”

Hyundai’s main championship contender Thierry Neuville ended the day in the fight for victory, 18.6s adrift of the lead in third. The Belgian lost time in the afternoon to an intermittent handbrake issue which will be resolved for Saturday.

The team's third entry driven by Dani Sordo recovered to 12th overall after losing three minute to a slow roll during stage four that caused significant damage to the i20 N. Having managed to get the car back to service, Sordo and co-driver Candido Carrera skipped lunch to pitch in with the Hyundai mechanics to repair the car ahead of the afternoon loop.

“I have to give big praise to the mechanics and to Dani and Candido for helping,” added Abiteboul.

Dani Sordo, Hyundai World Rally Team

Dani Sordo, Hyundai World Rally Team

Photo by: Fabien Dufour / Hyundai Motorsport

“We know we are limited in terms of hand that can touch the car so any help is welcome.

“They skipped lunch to help the guys and they did a good job and they have got to the end of the day.

“It was great to see the driver helping to fix the front screen, it was quite remarkable.

“Obviously he is bit far away in terms of the podium finish, but who knows it is a long weekend.”

Be part of the Autosport community

Join the conversation

Related video

Previous article WRC Sardinia: Lappi fights back to lead Ogier by 0.1s
Next article Wrong weather information cost Ogier WRC Sardinia advantage

Top Comments

Sign up for free

  • Get quick access to your favorite articles

  • Manage alerts on breaking news and favorite drivers

  • Make your voice heard with article commenting.

Autosport Plus

Discover premium content
Subscribe