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WRC rookie Esapekka Lappi wins Rally Finland for Toyota

Esapekka Lappi wins WRC Finland 2017

Esapekka Lappi and Tommi Makinen's Toyota team claimed a home victory on Rally Finland in only Lappi's fourth start in a World Rally Car.

Lappi - the reigning WRC2 champion - took the lead of the event on Saturday when team-mate Jari-Matti Latvala retired with an ECU failure on his Toyota Yaris WRC.

Latvala had started to pull away from Lappi over Saturday's stages and the gap was up to 8.5 seconds when he retired on Ouninpohja, leaving Lappi and co-driver Janne Ferm to manage a lead of nearly a minute over an epic battle for second place.

There was more drama near the finish as Lappi took a chunk out of the rim on the rear of his Yaris on the penultimate stage but he held on to win by 36s.

The tight battle for second was decided on the powerstage when Elfyn Evans overturned a 0.9s deficit to Lappi's team-mate Juho Hanninen to deny Toyota's Finnish driver a home one-two.

Evans had struggled on Friday, but plugged away and brought his DMACK Ford Fiesta WRC back into contention.

M-Sport's rookie Teemu Suninen had held second going onto the penultimate stage but went wide into a ditch, hit a bank and spun.

Still, he held on for fourth in only his second event in a 2017 WRC car.

Teemu Suninen M-Sport Ford WRC Finland 2017

Craig Breen was once again the highest-placed Citroen C3 WRC, with the team struggling on an event where last year it finished first and third with Kris Meeke and Breen.

Thierry Neuville took sixth overall but thanks to that and third place on the powerstage he draws level with Sebastien Ogier at the head of the World Rally Championship standings and leads on countback.

A heavy jump broke the suspension on Ogier's Fiesta on Friday morning, and shortly afterwards he went off and hit a tree on co-driver Julien Ingrassia's side - leaving Ingrassia concussed and ending their weekend.

Ott Tanak in the final M-Sport car had led on Friday but hit a rock and damaged a wheel.

His fightback took him to seventh, and more importantly, a powerstage win that helped team-mate Ogier's title hopes by taking points off Neuville.

Kris Meeke struggled for confidence throughout and his win last year felt a very long time ago.

He took eighth behind Tanak, heading an off-the-pace Dani Sordo.

Mads Ostberg rounded out the top 10, having been as high as third before problems and incidents.

Finn Jari Huttunen produced one of the drives of the weekend to win on his WRC2 debut in his Skoda Fabia, just his second event in an R5 car.

The European championship junior won by over two minutes, and even led the likes of former M-Sport WRC driver Eric Camilli, who was in an R5 car but not registered for points, in the overall order.

Leading finishers after SS25

PosDriverTeamCarGap
1Esapekka Lappi, J.FermToyota Gazoo Racing WRCToyota2h29m26.9s
2Elfyn Evans, D.BarrittM-Sport World Rally TeamFord36.0s
3Juho Hanninen, K.LindstromToyota Gazoo Racing WRCToyota36.3s
4Teemu Suninen, M.MarkkulaM-Sport World Rally TeamFord1m01.5s
5Craig Breen, S.MartinCitroen Total Abu Dhabi WRTCitroen1m22.6s
6Thierry Neuville, N.GilsoulHyundai MotorsportHyundai1m33.1s
7Ott Tanak, M.JarveojaM-Sport World Rally TeamFord1m53.6s
8Kris Meeke, P.NagleCitroen Total Abu Dhabi WRTCitroen3m12.6s
9Dani Sordo, M.MartiHyundai MotorsportHyundai4m11.5s
10Mads Ostberg, T.EriksenM-Sport World Rally TeamFord4m21.2s

LEADING POWERSTAGE TIMES:

PosDriverTeamCarGap
1Ott Tanak, M.JarveojaM-Sport World Rally TeamFord4m48.6s
2Elfyn Evans, D.BarrittM-Sport World Rally TeamFord1.5s
3Thierry Neuville, N.GilsoulHyundai MotorsportHyundai2.0s
4Jari-Matti Latvala, M.AnttilaToyota Gazoo Racing WRCToyota2.3s
5Juho Hanninen, K.LindstromToyota Gazoo Racing WRCToyota2.7s

CHAMPIONSHIP STANDINGS:

PosDriverPoints
1Thierry Neuville160
2Sebastien Ogier160
3Ott Tanak119
4Jari-Matti Latvala114
5Dani Sordo84
6Elfyn Evans79
7Craig Breen53
8Hayden Paddon51
9Juho Hanninen46
10Esapekka Lappi45
11Kris Meeke31
12Teemu Suninen25
13Stephane Lefebvre22
14Andreas Mikkelsen21
15Mads Ostberg19
16Jan Kopecky5
17Pontus Tidemand4
18Eric Camilli2
19Stephane Sarrazin2
20Yohan Rossel1
21Bryan Bouffier1


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