“Congratulations to Esapekka and Janne on their win at the Rally Great Britain. It’s an outstanding result. They both drove very cleverly at this important rally,” said ŠKODA Motorsport Director Michal Hrabánek. “Going easy on the car because there were no midday services and nevertheless setting the pace paid off for us. Now the focus is on the season finale in Australia, where we have the chance to clinch the title.”
Thanks to the result of the Welsh leg, suspense is guaranteed at the season finale at the Rally Australia (17–20 November). The rules mean that ŠKODA works driver Lappi – currently third in the season standings with 107 points – is the only contender among the current top 3 who can score additional points in Australia. His rivals at the top of the season standings, Elfyn Evans (Ford) and Suninen, have already completed the maximum number of seven qualifying events and cannot rack up any extra points as a result. Lappi needs to finish at least second Down Under to move up to the top of the WRC 2 standings.
“The Rally Great Britain went perfectly for us. Conditions on the courses in Wales weren’t quite as difficult as in previous years and the set-up of our ŠKODA FABIA R5 was perfect. The whole team did an outstanding job,” said Lappi at the finishing line. “We’re delighted to have won, but we also know that we need to start preparing for Australia straight away, where it’s down to us to achieve our big goal for the season.”
The outcome in Wales means that a driver in the high-tech four-wheel-drive FABIA R5 has won nine out of the last ten WRC 2 legs. GB winner Lappi also triumphed at the event in his native Finland and won the German rally. The ŠKODA works pairing Jan Kopecký/Pavel Dresler (CZ/CZ) won the Rally Spain, and their team-mates Pontus Tidemand/Jonas Andersson (S/S) bagged a season win at the Rally Portugal. Suninen took first place in Mexico, Sardinia and Poland, while Nicolás Fuchs (PE) won the Rally Argentina for ŠKODA.
Tidemand also has every reason to be pleased with the outcome of the Rally Great Britain. In a furious bid to catch up with Suninen, he scored six best stage times to ease past the Finn on the last trial of the rally and claim second place. Meanwhile, Kopecký took fourth place overall in the third works ŠKODA, giving the car maker a quadruple win in Wales.
Final standings Rally Great Britain (WRC 2):
1. Lappi/Ferm (FIN/FIN) ŠKODA FABIA R5 3:24:00.3 hrs
2. Tidemand/Andersson (S/S) ŠKODA FABIA R5 + 0:29.1 min.
3. Suninen/ Markkula (FIN/FIN) ŠKODA FABIA R5 + 0:30.2 min.
4. Kopecký/Dresler (CZ/CZ) ŠKODA FABIA R5 + 2:18.8 min.
5. Aasen/Engan (N/N) Ford Fiesta R5 + 4:25.3 min.
The number of the rally: 19
With 19 out of 22 possible stage wins at the Rally Great Britain going to the ŠKODA FABIA R5, the four-wheel-drive from Mladá Bodeslav has once again proved its mettle in this international competition. Works driver Esapekka Lappi won no fewer than eight of the time trials in Wales, followed by his team-mate Pontus Tidemand (6) and Suninen (5) at the wheel of a privateer team’s ŠKODA FABIA R5. The remaining three stage wins went to Kevin Abbring (NL, Hyundai).
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