Rally Sweden: Lappi takes the lead

Rally Sweden: Lappi takes the lead

After a morning full of twists and turns, Esapekka Lappi dominated three of the four afternoon stages to take control of the Swedish Rally from the hands of Takamoto Katsuta. At the wheel of a Rally2, Oliver Solberg moved into third place.

Esapekka Lappi pulls the chestnuts from the fire. While Takamoto Katsuta took advantage of the chaos of SS4 to lead the general classification of Rally Sweden at the end of the morning, the Finn was able to have a better pace at the end of the day. The afternoon loop, made up of four special stages and just over 50 timed kilometers, began with an absolutely unexpected result. Indeed, SS5 saw Estonian Georg Linnamäe set the best time at the wheel of a Toyota Yaris… Rally2.

We had to go down to fifth place to see the first car in the premier Rally1 category, the Hyundai entrusted to Esapekka Lappi. The Finn thus began his comeback on Takamoto Katsuta, from whom he took six seconds. The gap fell to three tenths of a second at the end of SS6 dominated by the Hyundai driver while the Japanese was also the only one to survive. Then dropping a little more than two seconds over the 28.25 kilometers of the Floda timed sector, Takamoto Katsuta let go of the general reins to Esapekka Lappi.

Lappi satisfied with his performance

The latter then took advantage of the 5.16km of the Umeå sprint special to set a fourth scratch time and increase his lead to just over three seconds. “ It is certain that we must take advantage of the confidence built up today (Friday) and stay focused for the rest of the rally, he confided after the last special of the day. At the start of the day I wasn’t too slow compared to Kalle Rovanperä, so I’m quite happy with that and, looking at the afternoon, we made the most of our position on the road, as we had to. »

While Thierry Neuville, championship leader and winner of the Monte-Carlo Rally, is relegated to 11th place almost three minutes behind the leader, third place in the ranking goes to Oliver Solberg. The son of former world champion Peter Solberg put in an admirable performance as he was at the wheel of a Skoda Fabia RS Rally 2, much less efficient than the cars of the WRC headliners. The Swede, however, is only a little less than six seconds ahead of Adrien Fourmaux’s Ford M-Sportwho proves to be at ease in the particular conditions offered by the Swedish rally.

RALLYE – WRC / SUEDE
Ranking at the end of SS8 (out of 18) – Friday February 16, 2024
1- Esapekka Lappi – Janne Ferm (FIN-FIN/Hyundai) en 58’18”8
2- Takamoto Katsuta – Aaron Johnstone (JAP-IRL/Toyota) à 3”2
3- Oliver Solberg – Elliott Edmondson (SUE-GBR/Skoda Rally2) à 1’20”7
4- Adrien Fourmaux – Alexandre Coria (FRA-FRA/Ford M-Sport) at 1’26”3
5- Elfyn Evans – Scott Martin (GBR-GBR/Toyota) à 1’50”0

Special stage winners
Rovanperä : 2 (ES1, ES2)
Lapland : 4 (ES3, ES6, ES7, ES8)
Katsuta: 1 (ES4)
Linnamäe : 1 (ES5)

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