The mentality shift key to Lappi’s shot at WRC redemption
He appeared poised to become the World Rally Championship’s new bright young star five years ago, but Esapekka Lappi's fortunes since his 2017 breakthrough win offer a cautionary tale of how the tables can turn. Now having rebuilt his career, the Finn is determined to make the most of his second shot at the big time with Toyota
Rewind to July 2017 and the World Rally Championship seemingly had crowned a new young star in Esapekka Lappi. The Finn had claimed a record-breaking victory at Rally Finland, in only his fourth career start.
Then the reigning WRC2 champion, Lappi had set tongues wagging by claiming his first stage wins on only his second event of a partial campaign for Toyota in Italy. Then, following a retirement in Poland, he sensationally swept to victory in Finland - winning nine stages along the way. In doing so, he set a record that remains intact today for the fewest WRC starts prior to a maiden win.
He may only be contesting a part-time campaign in the World Rally Championship these days, but Sebastien Ogier underlined that he's lost none of his speed in the 2023 season opener. Storming to yet another victory on the Monte Carlo Rally, the eight-time world champion rewrote the history books again as Toyota served notice of its intentions with a crushing 1-2
Audi should have been invincible in the snowy conditions that typically greeted the World Rally Championship paddock in Monte Carlo. But unexpectedly warm weather for the 1983 season opener, combined with some left-field thinking from the Lancia crew turned the tables. Forty years on, team boss Cesare Fiorio reflects on a smash and grab
M-Sport had a disastrous 2022 with its Rally1 Ford Pumas following Sebastien Loeb’s first-time-out win on the Monte. But now things are looking up with 2019 world champion Ott Tanak leading its attack, and the Cumbrian operation has optimism that it can challenge for a first title since Sebastien Ogier's departure at the end of 2018
As Kalle Rovanpera begins his World Rally Championship title defence in Monte Carlo, the Finn knows he has a target on his back. But who is best placed to knock the Toyota ace off his perch?
Question: what could be harder than becoming the youngest-ever World Rally champion? Answer: becoming the youngest-ever two-time World Rally champion. That's quite the challenge facing Toyota's Kalle Rovanpera in 2022, particularly against rejuvenated opposition in the second year of the WRC's hybrid regulations
OPINION: New Hyundai WRC team boss Cyril Abiteboul admits he’s got a lot to learn as he leads the marque's efforts to dethrone Toyota. But could his Formula 1 experience and evident strengths mean he turns out to be an inspired choice?
Toyota was unstoppable in the 2021 World Rally Championship, with an excellent 75% strike rate from 12 rallies. But in a scary proposition for its rivals, the Japanese marque had built a car for the final year of the previous regulations set which it believes was much faster and could feasibly have crushed the opposition completely. Here the story of its mothballed world-beater
Sponsored: Why you need to see the new-look WRC
Hyundai: Sweden WRC podium "achievable" after Monte bug fixes
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