“It was a good day for us. We only made one minor error at an intersection. We tried everything and it paid off. But it’s not over yet: Suninen is very fast. Sunday will be really difficult,” said Lappi. The blond was commanding as he celebrated the historic first win in the new ŠKODA FABIA R5 at the Rally Poland last year. In glorious sunshine and with temperatures over 30 degrees, it is a lot closer this weekend.
ŠKODA works driver Lappi started the race on Saturday trailing Suninen by 4.6 seconds. In a wise tactical move, Lappi held back slightly on the first passes of the special stages “Goldap”, “Stanczyki” and “Babki”. The current WRC 2 championship leader Elfyn Evans (GB/Ford), who in third place had, at one point, closed to within 14.8 seconds of the leaders, consistently set the best times.
But then in the afternoon Lappi completed the second pass of the three stages at full throttle in his ŠKODA FABIA R5. With a magnificent best time on the 14th special stage overall, ” Stanczyki 2″, the 25-year-old took the lead for the first time in the ŠKODA duel with his fellow countryman Suninen and, with another two best times, extended his lead to a total of 10.8 seconds. Evans is lurking in third place with a deficit of 26.6 seconds and should not be written off yet going into the final four special stages on Sunday. “It was a magnificent battle at the highest level throughout the day. Sunday will be difficult, but we will try our best to win,” promised the ŠKODA FABIA R5 driver Suninen.
The second ŠKODA works team Pontus Tidemand/Jonas Andersson (S/S), who were in the lead until the penultimate stage on Friday when a problem ended their day, returned to the rally on Saturday. With strong times the duo worked their way back up into 13th place in the overall standings. “We are no longer able to get involved in the gripping ŠKODA duel for the win. Which is why we are using the rest of the rally to gain experience for the upcoming Rally Finland,” said Tidemand.
The ŠKODA FABIA R5 proved to be the “full throttle champion” of the WRC 2 again on Saturday. In the overall standings, five of the Czech rally racers are in the top eight. In addition to front-runner Lappi and second-placed Suninen, Nicolás Fuchs (PE/fifth), Armin Kremer (D/seventh) and Scott Pedder (AUS/eighth) are also on their way to a strong result.
Interim standings – Rally Poland (WRC 2):
1. Lappi/Ferm (FIN/FIN); ŠKODA FABIA R5; 2:09:36.3 hrs.
2. Suninen/Markkula (FIN/FIN); ŠKODA FABIA R5; + 0:10.8 min.
3. Evans/Parry (GB/GB); Ford Fiesta R5; + 0:26.6 min.
4. Gilbert/Jamoul (F/F); Citroën DS3 R5; + 4:30.6 min.
5. Fuchs/Mussano (PE/RA); ŠKODA FABIA R5; + 5:04.5 min.
The number of the day for the Rally Poland: 121.48
ŠKODA works driver Esapekka Lappi achieved the fastest average speed in the WRC 2 on the second pass of the special stage “Babki” on Saturday. The 25-year-old took just 10:22.9 minutes to complete the 21.02-kilometre stage. That is an average speed of 121.48 kilometres per hour – a strong performance on the dusty gravel tracks in the lakes region of Masuria. The Rally Poland, along with the following Rally Finland, is the fastest stop on the FIA World Rally Championship calendar.
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
Rally Corsica; 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