Hyundai driver Esapekka Lappi faced unexpected challenges during the Central European Rally after a promising start.
Esapekka Lappi has faced a premature end to his rally run at the Central European Rally, crashing out while holding a promising second-place position.
This marked a significant setback for the Finnish driver, who had been showcasing a commendable performance following a frustrating start to the weekend.
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Lappi’s rally journey commenced with a bit of a hiccup, as he incurred a 10-second jump-start penalty on SS1 on Thursday.
However, the resilient driver swiftly rebounded, demonstrating remarkable pace and skill on Friday’s stages, which propelled him to third overall, trailing behind the rally leader, Kalle Rovanperä.
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The rally took a dramatic turn on SS5, less than a mile into the stage, when Lappi’s car met an unfortunate fate. The Hyundai i20 N Rally1 driver explained the harrowing moments leading up to the crash.
“We hit the tree with the rear-right and then the front-left as well. We were spinning around," he said.
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When probed about the specifics of the incident, Lappi provided insight into the challenging circumstances that led to the crash.
“I guess a quick analyze would be that on the braking I touched the brake and I lost the rear on the braking because it’s a short corner – fairly fast but short corner so immediately when I touched the brake pedal I started to slide and I think I was maybe too much on the edge of the road. A little bit like braking on paint in Formula 1, on the edge. I have no other explanation why as I lost it already very early," he added.
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Lappi and his co-driver, Janne Ferm, emerged from the incident unscathed, but the same coul not be said for their vehicle.
When asked about the extent of the damage, Lappi succinctly responded, “bad,” casting doubt on their ability to rejoin the rally on Saturday.
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Despite this being Lappi’s second crash in consecutive events, following a shunt on the first stage of Rally Chile, the Finnish driver remains optimistic about his prospects for the upcoming season.
The Finnish driver does not believe that this latest setback will hinder his chances of securing a drive with Hyundai for the 2024 season, confidently stating, “I really don’t think so.”
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As Lappi reflects on the weekend, he acknowledges the ease with which he and Ferm were navigating the rally stages prior to the crash.
“We were very surprised about the times we had yesterday already and this morning as well, but yeah, it all came very naturally all the time. So I’m also very surprised what actually happened,” he shared.
As the dust settles on Lappi’s unfortunate exit, Kalle Rovanperä continues to dominate the Central European Rally, holding a substantial lead of nearly half-a-minute over his closest rival, Elfyn Evans, in the World Rally Championship title race.
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