Citroen Racing’s Esapekka Lappi took a fantastic second place finish at his home event, the Neste Rally Finland on Sunday to end the event 25.6s behind winner Ott Tanak and speaking following the event he said:
I’m very pleased for the team – they deserve this result for having been patient and supportive during the first part of the season, when things were difficult. We worked really hard – and well – together so that the C3 WRC suited my driving style more effectively, especially on the front diffs and I really felt full of confidence driving the car this weekend. I literally felt like I could do what I liked in it! From the first run in the shakedown, I knew that things were looking good. I now hope to keep up this level of performance for the rest of the season.”
Sebastien Ogier shook off illness on Friday night to recover to finish the event in fifth place overall just ahead of the Hyundai duo of Thierry Neuville and Craig Breen. Speaking following the rally he said:
It was a tough weekend for us. To be honest, I had higher expectations at the start. As always, I gave it absolutely everything. For sure, Saturday’s leg – when I was really low on energy – didn’t help matters, but even today, when I felt better, unfortunately I wasn’t able to do more.
Citroen Racing Team Principal Pierre Budar was asked:
What can you say about Esapekka Lappi and Janne Ferm’s performance this weekend?
Obviously, we are delighted to see them back near the top after an up-and-down first half of the season, when they struggled to turn their undeniable potential into results.We knew that they were extremely fast and we never doubted their ability to get back to where they belong. They just needed a bit of time to adjust to the car and get the most out of it. We have also tried to support them in managing this situation as best we could, and the relaxed attitude we’ve seen in them this weekend makes me think that the hard work done is beginning to pay dividends. It’s richly deserved for the commitment and trust they have placed in the team, day in, day out. But it’s also satisfying for everyone in the team, who continue to work relentlessly, without counting the hours… I have high hopes that they can keep up the momentum at the next few rounds.
Once again showing their incredible fighting spirit, Sébastien and Julien leave Finland with precious points in the battle for the drivers’ and co-drivers’ title…
Yes, even though they were definitely hoping for a better outcome, and so were we. But they didn’t have an easy job in second position in the running order here, where there is a lot of loose gravel on the roads. And the very disrupted night between Friday and Saturday really knocked the stuffing out of Sébastien, just when he intended to try and make up lost ground. Despite all of this, they once again showed their legendary grit and tenacity, limiting the damage and remaining in with a very good chance of winning the championship. Sometimes, championships are won by making it to the end of difficult weekends like this one without suffering too much damage. In any case, we’ll be redoubling our efforts to ensure our crews have an even more competitive C3 WRC at the forthcoming rounds.
Lappi’s race engineer, Christophe Witschi commented on the result saying:
Esapekka was very relaxed this morning and very clear about how he intended to manage his 12.4s lead today. He clearly said that on the first run on the first stage, he was going to ease off slightly on the corner where he went off last year, in order to avoid making the same mistake and that’s obviously what he did. The second stage of the loop was changed a bit last year so his off in 2018 was quite a disadvantage, as he had not driven it at full racing speed. Latvala, on the other hand, has driven this stage many times before, given that it has been used previously as the shakedown stage. But once again, Esapekka and Janne managed to deal with this handicap perfectly, before reminding their fellow countryman that he wasn’t going to catch them on the repeat of Laukaa! It was undoubtedly at least as impressive as their performance on Saturday afternoon when they moved ahead of Latvala.