M Sport Ford WRC team’s Esapekka Lappi goes into the final day of the 2020 FIA World Rally Championship season opening Rallye Monte Carlo in the Hunt for a fourth place finish.
The Finn has managed to close a 50s gap to just 11s and speaking following the action on Saturday he said:
Everything felt much better this afternoon. We made some changes to the car which delivered a lot more grip, and also the information from the route note crews was much more precise. That brought a lot more confidence, and we were able to set some much better times and get a lot closer to Loeb ahead. But still 14 seconds is a lot to find when you’re talking about the nine-time World Champion! I think he knows tomorrow’s stages better than anyone so I’ll just focus on myself and hopefully we can show another improvement.”
Teemu Suninen goes into the final day just outside the top ten in eleventh place and speaking following the session he said:
“Our pace was pretty good on the sections that were dry, wet or muddy, and I set some top-three times through those splits. But I lost a lot of time on the icy sections – especially when on the slicks. Maybe it was because I know I have to bring the car home to the finish, but still we could have gone faster. Experience always helps though, and I think we made some good tyre choices throughout the day so I was pleased with that.”
There was disappointment for Gus Greensmith who despite some great times on Saturday won’t finish the event on Sunday and speaking following the stages today he said:
Considering how much work went into the pre-season it’s fair to say that my confidence was pretty shattered yesterday. I think it was the lowest point in my career, so today was all about rebuilding that. I was in no mood to make any mistakes through the first stage, but then I got back into things and managed to set the fifth fastest time in the next one. Then after that, I became a bit of a slush plough for the guys behind – but you’ve just got to pick yourself, keep working hard, and one day it’ll all come good.
M Sport Ford WRC team principal Richard Milener commented saying:
“It was great to see Esapekka finding some more confidence behind the wheel today, and he’s managed to rein Sébastien Loeb in from 50 seconds to just 14 seconds – which is pretty good going! It’ll be interesting to see how that one plays out tomorrow. Of course Loeb is something of a master on those stages, but if Esapekka’s confidence continues to grow then I wouldn’t bet against him either!
“It was also good to see Teemu setting some good split times, but he knows he was too cautious on the icy sections. It’s hard when you’re not really in a fight and thinking about bringing the car home to the finish, but hopefully we’ll see some more consistent conditions tomorrow for him to show what he can do.
“Gus also had a strong day. He was fairly devastated about what happened yesterday, but he picked himself up and just got on with rebuilding that confidence. He took it steady over the first stage, but then he was fifth fastest on the next one – which was pretty impressive considering how little experience he has.
“He won’t be competing in Monte tomorrow, but we’ve sent the car down to parc ferme to safeguard what’s set to be a really special and historic moment for the team.