Finland’s Esapekka Lappi took his first world rally championship (WRC) with a win in his home rally on Sunday (July 30) after benefiting from his team mate’s problem.
Lappi kept the lead on Sunday, despite a late scare. He inherited first place after his Toyota team mate and compatriot Jari-Matti Latvala broke down on Saturday (July 29), retiring while in the lead.
Down the order, Thierry Neuville of Belgium finished sixth and took over the world rally championship lead from world champion Sebastien Ogier of France.
Ogier crashed into a tree on Friday (July 28) and was unable to restart after co-driver Julien Ingrassia suffered concussion and was signed off from competing for 15 days.
Both drivers have 160 points but Neuville has won three times this season and Ogier only two.
Lappi’s win came in only his fourth WRC rally. After Friday’s (July 28) first full day of competition he was the overnight leader but was caught and passed by Latvala on Saturday morning.
It was on Saturday afternoon that Latvala’s car lost power and coasted to a halt mid-stage.
Lappi kept the lead on Sunday despite damaging a wheel on the penultimate stage and finished 36 seconds ahead of the opposition.
Britain’s Elfyn Evans, driving a Ford Fiesta, managed to fight his way past Finland’s Juho Hanninen (Toyota) and Teemu Suninen (Ford) to secure second place. Hanninen and Suninen took third and fourth place respectively.
The next event is the Rally of Germany on August 17-20 which takes place on backroads in the Mosel wine-growing region.