Sardinia is the second largest island in the Mediterranean Sea (after Sicily). The island is very rocky with indented coastline and it has great gravel roads, which are said to be the most challenging roads in the whole WRC rally.
ŠKODA Motorsport has sent again into battle Esapekka Lappi with Janne Ferm. For the World Championship this priority crew was completed by one of the best Czech drivers – Jan Kopecký. He has shown at the start for the first time since 2008, when he took part in Rally México.
This rally on the hot Italian island is characteristic for a big number of withdrawals. After several crews’ passages are gravel roads changed into light tank training area. After second passage of the same SS are the toughest cars also chewed up. Every error, every step out of lines is immediately punished by a hard punch for a car. We are pleased to say that our factory gun Fabia R5 coped with the hardest rally of the year really well.
The first SS, short super special race in Caglia on Thursday evening was only show for spectators. Real racing started on Friday morning on the north of Sardinia. ŠKODA cars absolutely fantastically flew into the competition. Lappi stuck around domestic matador Andreucci until 6th SS. He managed to win two tests and he had a minimal distance from the leadership in the rally. Jan Kopecký was around the third place and he also managed to win one test. Friday afternoon unfortunately wasn’t so perfect. In the 7th SS Lappi hit a stone that damaged his Fabia R5. Right after the accident still being on the track he brilliantly managed to repair his car. However, he finished the race with a 25 minutes loss. A big disappointment was seen at the finish line. Immediately in the next SS Kopecký had arrived late at the control and it seemed that there is no more chance for success. In spite of the situation there was a bit sad mood in Friday evening.
However, our boys didn’t give up and Lappi had times in TOP 3. Therefore, he started to move upward the ranking aiming to go for ranking positions. Kopecký was getting closer to the podium thanks to his focused, but fast drive. We have to highlight Lappi’s performance on legendary Monte Lermo stage. This speeding stage is more than 42 kilometres long and many cars are damaged at the finish line. In the first passage Lappi literally outclassed his rivals in WRC 2 and he drove the 9th absolute time with 1,25 sec/km loss. He repeated it in the second passage and he even flew into the finish line in the fifth best time. He defeated also Mads Ostberg with Citroen WRC. This “Flying Finn” fully showed a great potential of a still new car.
Kopecký went into last stage with a clear goal – to keep his third place and Lappi had to attack on the progression from tenth place. After Sundays’ 46 kilometres both pilots succeeded and the factory team ŠKODA finally left Sardinia very satisfied. ŠKODA has already ended on the podium twice in a row. On the next event, Rally Poland (2nd to 5th July) we will see if they keep this trend.
1. Protasov Yuriy – Cherepin Pavlo (Ford Fiesta RRC)
2. Andreucci Paolo – Andreussi Anna (Peugeot 208 T16) +5,6
3. Kopecký Jan – Dresler Pavel (Škoda Fabia R5) +2:44,0
4. Al-Kuwari Abdulaziz – Clarke Marshall (Ford Fiesta RRC) +6:34,7
5. Al-Attiyah Nasser – Baumel Matthieu (Ford Fiesta RRC) +6:42,6
9. Lappi Esapekka – Ferm Janne (Škoda Fabia R5) +26:30,3
- Al-Attiyah 60 bodů, 2. Al-Kuwari 57, 3. Ketomaa 55, 7. Tidemand 25, 9. Lappi 20, 16. Kopecký 15