“A storm and complicated track conditions: The Rally Corsica, which is demanding anyway, really was an even bigger challenge than usual this year. However, the ŠKODA team and the Fabia R5 also mastered this difficult challenge. Special praise goes to Esapekka Lappi and Janne Ferm, who kept a cool head in these conditions and truly deserved their spot on the podium,” said ŠKODA Motorsport Director Michal Hrabánek.
After seven special stages and well over 245 kilometres, Lappi trailed Frenchman Julien Maurin by just 20.9 seconds at the “rally of 10,000 turns”. After a thrilling duel lasting for the duration of the rally, it was not until the last stage of the final day that the winner was decided. “Of course we would have loved to win, but we are very pleased with second place. It was one of the most difficult rallies of my career, with the completely unpredictable conditions on the asphalt on day one in particular. Water, stones, mud – fortunately our ŠKODA Fabia R5 delivered another perfect performance,” said Lappi.
As it has at all six WRC 2 appearances this year since the official unveiling of the new rally car in mid April. After the top three positions in Portugal (Esapekka Lappi 2nd, Pontus Tidemand/S 3rd), Sardinia (Jan Kopecký/CZ 3rd), Poland (Lappi 1st, Tidemand 2nd), Finland (Lappi 1st, Tidemand 2nd) and Germany (Kopecký 1st), Lappi claimed the works team’s ninth WRC 2 podium position in the ŠKODA Fabia R5 on Corsica. The “Flying Finn” is in second place in the WRC 2 overall standings going into the remaining two events of the season and trails front-runner Nasser Al-Attiyah (Q) by just nine points.
However, the great fighting spirit of the second ŠKODA works team of Pontus Tidemand/Emil Axelsson (S/S) went unrewarded at the Rally Corsica. After a best time on the first special stage on Friday, the Swedish duo had a spate of bad luck and were forced to finish the “rally of 10,000 turns” early. “First suspension damage, followed by tyre damage and then coming off the track on Sunday – it really was a rally best forgotten for us. But we will learn from our mistakes,” said Tidemand.
The 24-year-old Swede recently clinched ŠKODA’s fourth successive FIA Asia-Pacific Rally Championship (APRC) title. The new ŠKODA Fabia R5 also proved to be a sure-fire title winner in its first season. As well as its run of success in WRC 2, the car has already won three national championships. In the Czech championship, Jan Kopecký bagged the title before the end of the season after winning five events in a row. In Austria, veteran Raimund Baumschlager won the national championship in the Fabia R5. In Hungary, Norbert Herczig (H) was crowned national rally champion in the Fabia R5.
Number of the day for the Rally Corsica: 7
The Rally Corsica was won in just seven special stages this year. This is by far the fewest number of stages in the 13 events of the World Rally Championship this year. Nine special stages were originally planned for the Mediterranean island, however two of these had to be cancelled after a storm damaged the roads. In comparison: 23 special stages were on the itinerary for the WRC rally on Sardinia.
Rally Corsica – Final Result WRC 2
1. Maurin/Klinger (F/F), Ford Fiesta S2000: 2:46:11.3 hrs.
2. Lappi/Ferm (FIN/FIN), ŠKODA Fabia R5: + 0:20.9 min.
3. Camilli/Veillas (F/F), Ford Fiesta R5: + 3:42.9 min.
4. Breen/Scott (IRL/GB), Peugeot 208 T16 R5: + 3:49.7 min.
5. Suninen/Markkula (FIN/FIN), Ford Fiesta R5: + 4:26.9 min.
FIA World Rally Championship (WRC 2)
Rally Monte Carlo: 22.01.–25.01.2015
Rally Sweden: 12.02.–15.02.2015
Rally Mexico: 05.03.–08.03.2015
Rally Argentina: 23.04.–26.04.2015
Rally Portugal: 21.05.–24.05.2015
Rally Italy: 11.06.–14.06.2015
Rally Poland: 02.07.–05.07.2015
Rally Finland: 30.07.–02.08.2015
Rally Germany: 20.08.–23.08.2015
Rally Australia: 10.09.–13.09.2015
Rally Corsica: 01.10.–04.10.2015
Rally Spain: 22.10.–25.10.2015
Rally Great Britain: 12.11.–15.11.2015