Esapekka Lappi and Janne Ferm produced a highly impressive performance last weekend in Sweden to secure their first podium finish for Citroen. The Finnish duo ended the rally in second place overall. Meanwhile, Sébastien Ogier and Julien Ingrassia used all of their talent and determination to scoop two bonus points on the Power Stage.
Lappi and Ferm felt completely at ease during Sunday’s final leg at Rally Sweden
Much like last year, the Finnish crew remained impressively relaxed throughout the final leg. This time they secured an excellent second place with control and authority. This runner-up spot was their first podium finish since joining Citroen. It was also their best result at this rally in only their third appearance here. This positive result also takes Esapekka Lappi up to fifth place in the championship standings.
After winning in Monte-Carlo, it’s also the second podium finish this season for Citroen.
There is no better way of ending the weekend & rewarding the hard work made by the @Citroen @TotalRacingENG World Rally Team than a well deserved podium spot:?place for #C3WRC n•4. Thank you @EsapekkaLappi & Janne Ferm! #RallySweden #WRC pic.twitter.com/caKTMNtWKC
— Citroën Racing (@CitroenRacing) February 17, 2019
Lappi’s promising performance on only his second competitive outing in the C3 WRC followed a rally during which he gradually improved his pace. He was fifth at the end of day one, despite a spin. The mistake left him having to deal with a damaged aerodynamic package. Lappi then upped his pace on Saturday’s leg. He gained three places, taking him into joint second position, before displaying even more convincing form on Sunday.
The Nordic pair started Sunday in joint second with another driver just 2.3 seconds behind
But Lappi landed a telling blow on the first pass on Likenäs (21.19km).
On this ultra-fast stage, the 28-year-old driver’s 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 4.4 second lead over the third-placed driver as he went into the Torsby Power Stage (8.93km). He proceeded to hold onto second overall on the final test and simultaneously grab the final bonus point.
“I knew that we had worked well during testing and that was confirmed during this rally which I really enjoyed. The conditions were still quite a bit different so we gradually worked on improving the set-up of our C3 WRC, which helped us to feel increasingly confident in the car and to pick up our pace as we completed more of the stages. I’m delighted with this result; it kick starts our season and bodes extremely well for the rest of the year”, Lappi commented.
Despite the clear disadvantage of running first on the road, Ogier and Ingrassia made a fine start to the rally, ending day one just outside the podium places in fifth overall and only 14.4 seconds 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 re-joined 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). The pair then focused on trying to secure a few extra points on the Power Stage. They set the fourth fastest time to come away with two bonus points.
“Obviously I had hoped for a better result, but I knew it would be difficult to do well when opening the road here. A lot of the crews hit the snow banks, including us. We were also unlucky in that we got stuck in one of the rare spots where there were no spectators. We did our very best on the Power Stage, even though once again the conditions were far from ideal for us. I’m now completely focused on the next rally in Mexico“, Ogier explained.
— Esapekka Lappi Rally (@EsapekkaLappi) February 17, 2019