CITROËN’S FLYING FINNS GRAB SECOND PLACE!
46th Rally Finland (1 - 4 August)
Runners-up on their home ground, Esapekka Lappi and Janne Ferm, consolidated their pedigree as “Flying Finns” after a stellar performance in their C3 WRC – adding another page to the history of this legendary yearly event. Citroën Total World Rally Team’s eighth podium of the season was supplemented by a fine fifth place for French drivers Sébastien Ogier and Julien Ingrassia. This fifth place finish was achieved despite driver Ogier falling ill over the weekend, showing his grit and determination to stay in the fight and claim precious points for the championship.
With the final leg starting on a stage they were absent for last year, Esapekka Lappi and Janne Ferm knew that a tough job lay ahead of them. Since they weren’t participating last year, it also meant that they had no experience driving the second stage of the loop at full speed. Despite maintaining the lead all weekend in the C3 WRC, the Finns nonetheless had to show great steel as they headed into the final stage. After limiting the time lost on the first runs and confirming their pace notes, they then moved clear of the third-placed crew on the second pass. They went on to equal their best result so far with the Red Army (runners-up in Sweden) and secured a richly-deserved podium on home ground, a handsome reward for their undeniable improvement!
This second podium of the season for the Lappi-Ferm crew, the sixth of their short WRC career, is also the eighth out of nine rounds this season for the Citroën Total World Rally Team.
Esapekka and Janne showed their intentions right from the get go, setting the second fastest time – just a tenth down on the lead time – on the first proper stage (19.34km). They then confirmed their promising start as they made it to the end of the opening leg in third position, just 2.4s off the pace. Full of confidence in the C3 WRC, which leaves no room for error, they further improved on Saturday’s leg. Two more stage wins (SS16 & SS18) amidst the four-way battle for the lead took them up to second place, with a lead of 12.4s . What an advantage the seasoned campaigners managed masterfully on today’s short final leg!
Meanwhile, there wasn’t any lacklustre on the field on Friday either, where Sébastien Ogier and Julien Ingrassia managed to limit the time lost, ending the day in seventh position, just 12.9s off the podium. After Friday’s race, however, Sébastien fell ill and tried his best to conquer Saturday’s leg. Nonetheless, he showed great persistence and determination to fight exhaustion and move up to fifth overall, within striking distance of fourth place. On Sunday, he brought to the track the same tenacity, but missed out on fourth place by just 2.7s. Totalling the points after Sunday’s rally, including two bonus points earned in the Power Stage, Sébastien placed second in the drivers’ championship and remains in contention for a seventh consecutive world title.