Day one of the Rally Great Britain offered a thrilling spectacle for thousands of fans with a duel between WRC 2 title contenders Lappi and Suninen. The penultimate rally of the season started with a brief scare for Lappi, when he lost the ideal line on a left-hand bend in the first stage and damaged the rear of his ŠKODA. Despite this, he did not lose much time against Suninen, who took the best time on this section.
Lappi countered with best times on the following six straight special stages, took the overall lead in the WRC 2 classification after just the third stage and extended this to put him 46.7 seconds ahead of second-placed Suninen by the end of the first day. The battle between the two WRC 2 title contenders dominated day one of the Rally Great Britain. “The slip-up at the beginning was annoying, but everything went perfectly for us after that,” said Lappi, who has celebrated two wins in a row this season with victories in Finland and Germany, but sat out the last two rallies. “I had a really good feel for the car and coped very well with the tricky sections. Now I know how I have to drive here. That gives me confidence for the next two days.”
Meanwhile, the two other ŠKODA works duos – Pontus Tidemand/Jonas Andersson and Jan Kopecký/Pavel Dresler – made a flawless start to the twelfth round of the season. They go into Saturday’s rallying in third and fourth place overall, respectively. Both performed consistently throughout. “Of course I want to make it onto the podium here in Wales,” said Tidemand at the end of day 1. In the penultimate stage of the day, the winner of the 2016 Rally Portugal moved up into third place and edged ahead of his team-mate Kopecký. Following on from his win at the Rally Spain two weeks ago, the latter once again showed that he delivers top results even on loose surfaces. Kopecký is currently trailing third-placed Tidemand by 28.4 seconds. No fewer than four ŠKODA FABIA R5 are at the top of the overall WRC 2 standings for the Rally Great Britain.
The teams face another eight time special stages covering 99.91 kilometres at the Rally GB in Wales on Saturday.
Interim standings Rally Great Britain (WRC 2):
1. Lappi/Ferm (FIN/FIN) ŠKODA FABIA R5 1:49:26.2 hrs
2. Suninen/ Markkula (FIN/FIN) ŠKODA FABIA R5 + 0:46.7 min.
3. Tidemand/Andersson (S/S) ŠKODA FABIA R5 + 1:11.2 min.
4. Kopecký/Dresler (CZ/CZ) ŠKODA FABIA R5 + 1:39.6 min.
5. Aasen/Engan (N/N) Ford Fiesta R5 + 2:58.2 min.
The number of the day: 6
ŠKODA works driver Esapekka Lappi and his co-driver Janne Ferm totted up no less than six stage wins in a row on day one of the Rally Great Britain. Only the first and last special stage went to their opponents. In between, the Finnish duo started working their way up to the top of the WRC 2 standings in Wales.
FIA World Rally Championship (WRC 2)
Rally Monte Carlo 21.01.–24.01.2016
Rally Sweden 11.02.–14.02.2016
Rally Mexico 03.03.–06.03.2016
Rally Argentina 21.04.–24.04.2016
Rally Portugal 19.05.–22.05.2016
Rally Italy 09.06.–12.06.2016
Rally Poland 30.06.–03.07.2016
Rally Finland 28.07.–31.07.2016
Rally Germany 18.08.–21.08.2016
Rally China 08.09.–11.09.2016 (cancelled)
Rally France 29.09.–02.10.2016
Rally Spain 13.10.–16.10.2016
Rally Great Britain 27.10.–30.10.2016
Rally Australia 17.11.–20.11.2016