Last year’s winner Esapekka Lappi kept a cool head at the sizzling battle in Poland and took the leading position in the WRC2 in the ŠKODA duel. However, the “Flying Finns” Esapekka Lappi / Janne Ferm head into the final day of the Rally Poland with a minimal lead of 10.8 seconds over their colleagues Teemu Suninen / Mikko Markkula (FIN/FIN). The winner will be decided over the final 59.60 classified kilometres on Sunday at the full throttle event on the FIA World Rally Championship (WRC 2) calendar.
The Finn was commanding as he celebrated the historic first win in the new ŠKODA Fabia R5 at the Rally Poland last year. In glorious sunshine and with temperatures over 30 degrees, it is a lot closer this weekend.
ŠKODA works driver Lappi entered the Saturday’s leg trailing Suninen by 4.6 seconds. In a wise tactical move, Lappi held back slightly on the first passes of the special stages “Goldap”, “Stanczyki” and “Babki”. The current WRC2 championship leader Elfyn Evans, who in third place had – at one point – closed to within 14.8 seconds of the leaders, consistently set the best times.
But then in the afternoon Lappi completed the second pass of the three stages at full throttle in his ŠKODA Fabia R5. With a magnificent best time on the 14th special stage, “Stanczyki 2”, the 25-year-old took the lead for the first time in the ŠKODA duel with his fellow countryman Suninen and, with another two best times, extended his lead to a total of 10.8 seconds. Evans is lurking in third place with a deficit of 26.6 seconds and should not be written off yet going into the final four special stages on Sunday.
The second ŠKODA works team Pontus Tidemand / Jonas Andersson, who were in the lead until the penultimate stage of the day on Friday when a problem ended their day, returned to the rally on Saturday. With strong times the duo worked their way back up into 13th place in the overall standings.
The ŠKODA FABIA R5 proved to be the “full throttle champion” of the WRC2 again on Saturday. In the overall standings, five of the Czech rally racers are in the top eight. In addition to front-runner Lappi and second-placed Suninen, Nicolás Fuchs (fifth), Armin Kremer (seventh) and Scott Pedder (eighth) are also on their way to a strong result.
Rally Poland 2016 – WRC2 standings after the second leg:
- Lappi/Ferm (FIN/FIN); ŠKODA Fabia R5; 2:09:36.3 hrs
- Suninen/Markkula (FIN/FIN); ŠKODA Fabia R5; +10.8 sec
- Evans/Parry (GB/GB); Ford Fiesta R5; +26.6 sec
- Gilbert/Jamoul (F/F); Citroën DS3 R5; +4:30.6 min
- Fuchs/Mussano (PE/RA); ŠKODA Fabia R5; +5:04.5 min