Toyota Gazoo World Rally Team stormed to an amazing result on Rally Finland with Esapekka Lappi claiming a debut championship victory and Juho Hänninen battling to third place. The success was all the sweeter for being on home ground for both the drivers, and the team.
The Yaris WRC was dominant throughout, leading for 22 of the rally’s 25 stages, posting 18 stage wins of which 13 were one-two finishes and one a memorable one-two-three Toyota lock-out.
Toyota President and Team Chairman Akio Toyoda led the congratulations: “Esapekka Lappi has brought us the best possible outcome on the team’s home rally and I would like to express my appreciation to all our fans for their strong support as we celebrate this special moment together.”
For Lappi, partnered by co-driver Janne Ferm, it was a dream finish “I’m not normally an emotional person, but this is amazing. I could never have imagined that we could get a result like this, so it’s a very big surprise. I have to say a big thank you to the team because they have built such a great car in a very short time.”
“Almost perfect,” was the response of team boss Tommi Mäkinen. “The team have put in the maximum to make a step forward on this rally. We were able to supply our drivers with a very fast car and the drivers did their very best job,” he said.
For Jari-Matti Latvala, it was a case of what might have been. The Finn put in a dazzling performance and was leading the event when an electrical problem put him out of contention on stage 19. He returned to the fray on Sunday and was able to claim two championship points in the rally’s closing Power Stage.
The next round of the World Rally Championship sees a return to action on asphalt with Rallye Deutschland in Germany, from 17 to 20 August The event was created by combining three former national rallies into a single contest, a mixed heritage that is evident in the different nature of each day’s stages. The first full day features tight and twisting stages through vineyards near the western town of Trier. The action then moves to the notorious Baumholder military ranges, with their challenging concrete roads. The final day is made up of classic European asphalt stages on wider, faster roads.
Final result, Rally Finland
|1||Esapekka Lappi/Janne Ferm||Toyota Yaris WRC||2h29m26.9s|
|2||Elfyn Evans/Daniel Barritt||Ford Fiesta WRC||+36s|
|3||Juho Hänninen/Kaj Lindström||Toyota Yaris WRC||+36.3s|
|4||Teemu Suninen/Mikko Markkula||Ford Fiesta WRC||+1m01.5s|
|5||Craig Breen/Scott Martin||Citroen C3 WRC||+1m22.6s|
|6||Thierry Neuville/Nicolas Gilsoul||Hyundai i20 Coupe WRC||+1m33.1s|
|7||Ott Tänak/Martin Järveoja||Ford Fiesta WRC||+1m53.6s|
|8||Kris Meeke/Paul Nagle||Citroen C3 WRC||+3m12.6s|
|9||Dani Sordo/Marc Martí||Hyundai i20 Coupe WRC||+4m11.5s|
|10||Mads Østberg/Torstein Eriksen||Ford Fiesta WRC||+4m21.2s|
|21||Jari-Matti Latvala/Miikka Anttila||Toyota Yaris WRC||+20m15.8s|
2017 FIA World Rally Championship for drivers after round nine: