Lappi scores maiden WRC win in Finland

Esapekka Lappi claimed his maiden WRC victory on Rally Finland for Team Toyota in only his fourth start in a World Rally Car. Lappi - the reigning WRC2 champion - took the lead on Saturday when team-mate Jari-Matti Latvala retired with an ECU failure on his Toyota Yaris WRC. Latvala had puledl 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.

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. but still 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 but 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 had struggled for confidence throughout the event, his win of 2016 seeming like a very long time ago, but he finished eighth behind Tanak, heading an off-the-pace Dani Sordo and Mads Ostberg rounded out the top 10, having been as high as third before problems and incidents.

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

30th July, 2017