“We are delighted with how the WRC debut in the new Fabia R5 is developing for us so far. But our main aim is to finish the rally,” said ŠKODA Motorsport Director Michal Hrabánek. On the hardest day of the Rally de Portugal with 165.40 kilometres scheduled, on the winding gravel tracks around Porto, the high-tech four-wheel drive showed how much potential it has. Right on the first stage, Baião 1, Lappi got the historic first WRC best time in the new ŠKODA Fabia R5, 4.2 seconds faster than his team-mate Tidemand.
“Yesterday we had stones, today sand; the conditions were totally different to Friday. But I’m getting more and more used to my new tool during my first rally in the new Fabia R5. This also helped us move up in the overall standings,” said the Finn. He demonstrated this on the other two special stages in the morning, which saw him clinch a hat-trick of best times in the WRC 2 standings.
Thanks to his gala performance, Lappi moved up from fifth at the start of the day into second in the overall standings. The 24-year-old will start the final day with a deficit of 49.0 seconds to Dakar winner Nasser Al-Attiyah (Q). 16.1 seconds behind Lappi is Tidemand in third place. “We defended our third place in our first race in the new Fabia R5. We can be pleased with that for now. We won’t risk everything here,” said Tidemand.
A further 54.65 kilometres over three special stages are scheduled for the big final day. This includes two passes of the legendary “Fafe” stage, with a massive leap as the highlight, which is expected to draw 100,000 spectators.
The number of the day for the Rally de Portugal: 12:24.5
Esapekka Lappi got the historic first best time in the WRC 2 standings of the WRC for the ŠKODA Fabia R5. The “Flying Finn” mastered the 18.57 kilometres of the special stage Baião 1 in 12:24.5 minutes.
Rally de Portugal – Intermediate standings WRC 2
1. Al-Attiyah/Baumel (Q/F), Ford Fiesta S2000, 3:04:56.4 hrs.
2. Lappi/Ferm (FIN/FIN), ŠKODA Fabia R5, + 0:49.0 min.
3. Tidemand/Axelsson (S/S), ŠKODA Fabia R5, + 1:05.1 min.
4. Lefebvre/Prévot (F/F), Citroën DS3 R5, + 2:32.8 min.
5. Maurin/Klinger (F/F), Ford Fiesta S2000, + 2:51.2 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 France, 01.10.–04.10.2015
Rally Spain, 22.10.–25.10.2015
Rally Great Britain, 12.11.–15.11.2015