Esapekka Lappi has finished in a fine third place on Rally Italia Sardinia in his Toyota Yaris WRC and moved up to fourth in the drivers' championship standings.
Lappi began the final day of the rally with a margin of just over a minute over the fourth-placed Hayden Paddon. This allowed him to take a cautious approach to the final four stages, securing the second podium finish of his WRC career by 58.9 seconds.
Thierry Neuville won the final stage to edge out World Champion Sebastien Ogier and extend his lead in this year’s title race.
“This is a really important result, both for my confidence but also for the team as well,” said Lappi. “I think we deserved a podium. We had opportunities to do it earlier in the season but I made some mistakes.”
His team mate Ott Tanak and Jari-Matti Latvala both had problems on the rough roads used for the event and finished seventh and ninth after earlier fighting for podium places.
“Very well done to Esapekka on his podium finish,” said Team Principal Tommi Makinen. “He lost a bit of time on the first day but after that he was doing really well, making no mistakes.”
Makinen said the rally was much tougher than expected. “A lot of cars retired and had problems. Everybody was fighting flat-out despite the rough road conditions. The cars are strong, but you need a bit of luck too.”
1 Thierry Neuville/Nicolas Gilsoul (Hyundai i20 Coupe WRC) 3h29m18.7s
2 Sebastien Ogier/Julien Ingrassia (Ford Fiesta WRC) +0.7s
3 Esapekka Lappi/Janne Ferm (Toyota Yaris WRC) +1m56.3s
4 Hayden Paddon/Seb Marshall (Hyundai i20 Coupe WRC) +2m55.2s
5 Mads Ostberg/Torstein Eriksen (Citroen C3 WRC) +3m10.9s
6 Craig Breen/Scott Martin (Citroen C3 WRC) +4m31.7s
7 Jari-Matti Latvala/Miikka Anttila (Toyota Yaris WRC) +11m22.1s
8 Jan Kopecky/Pavel Dresler (Skoda Fabia R5) +13m14.6s
9 Ott Tänak/Martin Järveoja (Toyota Yaris WRC) +13m18.2s
10 Teemu Suninen/Mikko Markkula (Ford Fiesta WRC) +15m30.4s
Championship points. - Drivers: 1, Neuville, 149; 2, Ogier, 122; 3, Tanak, 77; 4, Lappi, 70; 9, Latvala, 37.
Manufacturers: 1, Hyundai, 212; 2, Ford, 184; 3, Toyota, 161.