Esapekka Lappi has finished in a fine third place on Rally Italia Sardegna to score his first podium of the 2018 FIA World Rally Championship season: a result that moves the Toyota Yaris WRC driver up to fourth in the drivers’ championship standings.
Lappi began the final day of the rally with a margin of just more than a minute over the fourth-placed driver. This allowed him to take a cautious approach to the final four stages, securing the second podium finish of his WRC career by 58.9 seconds and achieving his stated pre-event target of improving upon the fourth place he managed on the same event in 2017.
His TOYOTA GAZOO Racing World Rally Team colleagues Jari-Matti Latvala and Ott Tänak also scored points in seventh and ninth overall respectively, having restarted the event under Rally 2 rules. Latvala had been battling with Lappi for third position throughout Saturday until a problem forced him to stop on the road section back to evening service. Tänak was also in the top three when he retired on Friday’s last stage with damage after a heavy landing but fought his way back into the top 10 and remains third in the drivers’ standings.
Tommi Mäkinen (Team Principal)
“Very well done to Esapekka on his podium finish. He lost a bit of time on the first day but after that he was doing really well, concentrating well and making no mistakes. This podium is the well-deserved result. Of course, we cannot be completely satisfied with our weekend, because it would have been good to see Jari-Matti and Ott fighting for the podium places until the end as well. It is really unfortunate what happened to both of them, but this is rallying, so it can happen, especially on such a tough event. It was much tougher than we thought it would be and a lot of cars retired and had problems. Everybody was fighting flat-out despite the rough road conditions. The cars are strong, but you need a bit of luck too.”
Jari-Matti Latvala (Driver car 7)
“It was good to be able to get back out on the stages today after the frustration of yesterday. The feeling in the car was good and the times were pretty good, even though we were saving the tyres. Unfortunately, on the Power Stage I stalled the engine in one corner: I went too quick into a left-hander and the ruts were quite deep. I really wanted a podium here but I will try to have a positive break and be ready to fight in Finland.”
Ott Tänak (Driver car 8)
“It was a tough weekend with many lessons learned. We still need to understand what happened and why, and we need to avoid the same things happening in the future. Generally, the feeling is good, we are really fast, now we just need a bit of consistency. I know we can do it. As a team we are still young but we are learning quickly. I have good faith in the team and I’m sure we can put these moments behind us and be stronger in the future.”
Esapekka Lappi (Driver car 9)
“Today was just about bringing the car to the finish and to the podium. This is a really important result, both for my confidence but also for the team as well. I think we deserved a podium. We had opportunities to do it earlier in the season but I made some mistakes. Both Portugal and Sardinia have been quite clean rallies for me with a consistent performance, so I hope I can take this forward to Finland.”
PROVISONAL FINAL RESULT, RALLY ITALIA SARDEGNA
1 Thierry Neuville/Nicolas Gilsoul (Hyundai i20 Coupe WRC) 3h29m18.7s
2 Sebastien Ogier/Julien Ingrassia (Ford Fiesta WRC) +0.7s
3 Esapekka Lappi/Janne Ferm (Toyota Yaris WRC) +1m56.3s
4 Hayden Paddon/Seb Marshall (Hyundai i20 Coupe WRC) +2m55.2s
5 Mads Ostberg/Torstein Eriksen (Citroen C3 WRC) +3m10.9s
6 Craig Breen/Scott Martin (Citroen C3 WRC) +4m31.7s
7 Jari-Matti Latvala/Miikka Anttila (Toyota Yaris WRC) +11m22.1s
8 Jan Kopecky/Pavel Dresler (Skoda Fabia R5) +13m14.6s
9 Ott Tänak/Martin Järveoja (Toyota Yaris WRC) +13m18.2s
10 Teemu Suninen/Mikko Markkula (Ford Fiesta WRC) +15m30.4s
(Results as of 20:30 on Sunday, for the latest results please visit www.wrc.com)
After the WRC’s summer break, round eight of the 2018 season will be Rally Finland on July 26-29. The event is the fastest rally on the calendar, run over smooth gravel roads containing many jumps. It is also a home event for the TOYOTA GAZOO Racing World Rally Team, which is based close to the service park in Jyväskylä and celebrated victory in 2017 with Esapekka Lappi.
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