It seems that Esapekka Lappi and Janne Ferm really do feel at home on Sunday’s final leg at Rally Sweden! Like last year, the Finnish crew remained impressively relaxed throughout the final leg, this time securing a fine second place with control and authority. This runner-up spot was their first podium finish since joining Citroën. It was also their best result at this rally in only their third appearance here and took him up to fifth place in the championship standings.
After winning in Monte-Carlo, it’s also the second podium finish this season in as many events for Citroën Total World Rally Team, following a race during which the C3 WRC stood out for both its competitiveness (three stage wins) and its exemplary reliability.
Lappi’s highly promising performance on only his second competitive outing in the C3 WRC came following a race during which he gradually upped his pace. Fifth at the end of day one, including a spin that left him having to deal with a damaged aerodynamic package, Esapekka then upped his pace on Saturday’s leg. He gained three places, taking him into joint second position, before displaying even more convincing form today. Joint second this morning, with another driver just 2.3s behind, the 28 year-old driver landed a telling blow on the first pass on Likenäs (21.19km). On this ultra fast stage, on which you really need to be perfectly at one with your car, his third fastest time put paid to the threat posed by the first of his rivals whilst adding two tenths to his advantage over the second one. However, he was far from finished! On the second run on the stage, he finished within just six tenths of the stage-winning time to give him a 4.4s lead over the third-placed driver going into the Torsby Power Stage (8.93km). He held onto second overall on the final test, whilst also grabbing the final bonus point!
Despite the clear disadvantage of running first on the road, Sébastien Ogier and Julien Ingrassia made a fine start to the rally, ending day one just outside the podium places (fifth overall, 14.4s off the pace). However, first to come up against the water-filled ruts left by the historic cars completing the stages between the morning and afternoon loops, the six-time world champions were unfortunately caught out on SS6. They became stuck in a snow bank and had to retire for the day. They rejoined on Saturday looking to run in-competition tests and work on the set-up of their C3 WRC. However, they refused to be discouraged and maintained their commitment, managing to claim three stage wins (SS10, SS11 and SS14). Focused today on trying to secure a few points on the Power Stage, they set the fourth fastest time to come away with two bonus points. Now lying third in the championship standings, they head for the next round knowing they will have a decent starting position in Mexico.