Lappi take Rally Finland lead

Esapekka Lappi took the Rally Finland lead from Toyota team-mate Jari-Matti Latvala during Friday afternoon's loop after inching ever closer through the morning and four straight stage wins took the WRC rookie past Latvala to end the day with a 4.4-second lead. M-Sport's Teemu Suninen - in only his second World Rally Car start - establishing himself in a comfortable third.

Toyota's third driver Juho Hanninen is 6.1s behind Craig Breen's Citroen in fifth, having had to tread carefully after damaging his rear suspension on a rock just as he moved up to fourth on the Lankamaa stage. A makeshift fix, which left the car's left-rear wheel still notably askew, was sufficient for Hanninen to continue at a competitive pace for the rest of the afternoon.

Mads Ostberg had finished the morning in third, but had a troubled afternoon grappling with handling problems that he initially thought were due to a suspension breakage, then perhaps a differential issue instead and he remained puzzled but picked up his pace and ended the day a tenth ahead of Elfyn Evans in sixth.

With Sebastien Ogier out following a heavy morning crash, his World Rally Championship title rival Thierry Neuville had an opportunity to take the WRC lead but Hyundai has been off the pace all day, and all Neuville could do was celebrate getting ahead of Kris Meeke for eighth when bent steering from an impact with a rock slowed the Citroen slightly and a fastest time on the short and unrepresentative mostly-asphalt Harju evening stage.

Neuville is the only Hyundai driver in the top 10 - Hayden Paddon having broken his suspension in the morning and Dani Sordo having been pushed back to 11th by Ott Tanak, who was on a charge after damaging a tyre while leading in the early stages.

Top Ten Positions after first day
Pos Driver Team Car Gap
1 Esapekka Lappi, J.Ferm Toyota Gazoo Racing WRC 1h11m36.4s
2 Jari-Matti Latvala, M.Anttila Toyota Gazoo Racing WRC 4.4s
3 Teemu Suninen, M.Markkula M-Sport World Rally Team 19.0s
4 Craig Breen, S.Martin Citroen Total Abu Dhabi WRT 33.0s
5 Juho Hanninen, K.Lindstrom Toyota Gazoo Racing WRC 39.1s
6 Mads Ostberg, T.Eriksen M-Sport World Rally Team 45.0s
7 Elfyn Evans, D.Barritt M-Sport World Rally Team 45.1s
8 Thierry Neuville, N.Gilsoul Hyundai Motorsport 58.0s
9 Kris Meeke, P.Nagle Citroen Total Abu Dhabi WRT 1m07.6s
10 Ott Tanak, M.Jarveoja M-Sport World Rally Team Ford 1m50.2s

28th July, 2017