WRC rookie Esapekka Lappi wins Rally Finland for Toyota

Esapekka Lappi and Tommi Makinen's Toyota team claimed a home victory on Rally Finland in only Lappi's fourth start in a World Rally Car

WRC rookie Esapekka Lappi wins Rally Finland for Toyota

Lappi - the reigning WRC2 champion - took the lead of the event on Saturday when team-mate Jari-Matti Latvala retired with an ECU failure on his Toyota Yaris WRC.

Latvala had started to pull away from Lappi over Saturday's stages and the gap was up to 8.5 seconds when he retired on Ouninpohja, leaving Lappi and co-driver Janne Ferm to manage a lead of nearly a minute over an epic battle for second place.

There was more drama near the finish as Lappi took a chunk out of the rim on the rear of his Yaris on the penultimate stage but he held on to win by 36s.

The tight battle for second was decided on the powerstage when Elfyn Evans overturned a 0.9s deficit to Lappi's team-mate Juho Hanninen to deny Toyota's Finnish driver a home one-two.

Evans had struggled on Friday, but plugged away and brought his DMACK Ford Fiesta WRC back into contention.

M-Sport's rookie Teemu Suninen had held second going onto the penultimate stage but went wide into a ditch, hit a bank and spun.

Still, he held on for fourth in only his second event in a 2017 WRC car.

Craig Breen was once again the highest-placed Citroen C3 WRC, with the team struggling on an event where last year it finished first and third with Kris Meeke and Breen.

Thierry Neuville took sixth overall but thanks to that and third place on the powerstage he draws level with Sebastien Ogier at the head of the World Rally Championship standings and leads on countback.

A heavy jump broke the suspension on Ogier's Fiesta on Friday morning, and shortly afterwards he went off and hit a tree on co-driver Julien Ingrassia's side - leaving Ingrassia concussed and ending their weekend.

Ott Tanak in the final M-Sport car had led on Friday but hit a rock and damaged a wheel.

His fightback took him to seventh, and more importantly, a powerstage win that helped team-mate Ogier's title hopes by taking points off Neuville.

Kris Meeke struggled for confidence throughout and his win last year felt a very long time ago.

He took eighth behind Tanak, heading an off-the-pace Dani Sordo.

Mads Ostberg rounded out the top 10, having been as high as third before problems and incidents.

Finn Jari Huttunen produced one of the drives of the weekend to win on his WRC2 debut in his Skoda Fabia, just his second event in an R5 car.

The European championship junior won by over two minutes, and even led the likes of former M-Sport WRC driver Eric Camilli, who was in an R5 car but not registered for points, in the overall order.

Leading finishers after SS25

Pos Driver Team Car Gap
1 Esapekka Lappi, J.Ferm Toyota Gazoo Racing WRC Toyota 2h29m26.9s
2 Elfyn Evans, D.Barritt M-Sport World Rally Team Ford 36.0s
3 Juho Hanninen, K.Lindstrom Toyota Gazoo Racing WRC Toyota 36.3s
4 Teemu Suninen, M.Markkula M-Sport World Rally Team Ford 1m01.5s
5 Craig Breen, S.Martin Citroen Total Abu Dhabi WRT Citroen 1m22.6s
6 Thierry Neuville, N.Gilsoul Hyundai Motorsport Hyundai 1m33.1s
7 Ott Tanak, M.Jarveoja M-Sport World Rally Team Ford 1m53.6s
8 Kris Meeke, P.Nagle Citroen Total Abu Dhabi WRT Citroen 3m12.6s
9 Dani Sordo, M.Marti Hyundai Motorsport Hyundai 4m11.5s
10 Mads Ostberg, T.Eriksen M-Sport World Rally Team Ford 4m21.2s

LEADING POWERSTAGE TIMES:

Pos Driver Team Car Gap
1 Ott Tanak, M.Jarveoja M-Sport World Rally Team Ford 4m48.6s
2 Elfyn Evans, D.Barritt M-Sport World Rally Team Ford 1.5s
3 Thierry Neuville, N.Gilsoul Hyundai Motorsport Hyundai 2.0s
4 Jari-Matti Latvala, M.Anttila Toyota Gazoo Racing WRC Toyota 2.3s
5 Juho Hanninen, K.Lindstrom Toyota Gazoo Racing WRC Toyota 2.7s

CHAMPIONSHIP STANDINGS:

Pos Driver Points
1 Thierry Neuville 160
2 Sebastien Ogier 160
3 Ott Tanak 119
4 Jari-Matti Latvala 114
5 Dani Sordo 84
6 Elfyn Evans 79
7 Craig Breen 53
8 Hayden Paddon 51
9 Juho Hanninen 46
10 Esapekka Lappi 45
11 Kris Meeke 31
12 Teemu Suninen 25
13 Stephane Lefebvre 22
14 Andreas Mikkelsen 21
15 Mads Ostberg 19
16 Jan Kopecky 5
17 Pontus Tidemand 4
18 Eric Camilli 2
19 Stephane Sarrazin 2
20 Yohan Rossel 1
21 Bryan Bouffier 1


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Esapekka Lappi stays clear of battle for second on Rally Finland
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