In glorious sunshine the ŠKODA works duo Esapekka Lappi / Janne Ferm got off to a perfect start at the 25th Rally Australia. The “Flying Finns” dominated the first day at the grand season finale of the FIA World Rally Championship (WRC) and have a commanding lead in the WRC2 classification, with an advantage of more than two minutes over their rivals. Second place would be enough to see Lappi clinch the historic title win in the WRC2 drivers’ standings.
The 25-year-old Finn took the lead on the dusty gravel stages in the forests around the rally centre of Coffs Harbour on the very first stage, and had extended it to almost 40 seconds over ŠKODA brand colleague Nicolás Fuchs by the midday service.
Then on the afternoon’s stages, the Finn extended the lead in his ŠKODA FABIA R5 with another series of outstanding times. The ŠKODA driver also delighted hundreds of fans at the city stage around the port of Coffs Harbour in the early evening.
After eleven stages covering 90.99 kilometres, everything is going according to plan in terms of the title for Lappi. While his rivals battled with problems on the first day of the Rally Australia, Lappi made it through the day without any problems. However, not even a third of the competitive distance of the Rally Australia have been mastered. 135.19 kilometres are scheduled for Saturday, including one of the longest special stages of the WRC season. At 50.80 kilometres, “Nambucca” is longer than a marathon and must be completed twice.
The ŠKODA brand’s victory in the overall standings of the WRC2 is already certain: Finn Teemu Suninen is currently at the top of the table. He is not competing in Australia.
|Rally Australia 2016 – WRC2 standings after the Leg 1:|
|1.||Esapekka Lappi / Janne Ferm
|ŠKODA FABIA R5||1:22:53.7 hrs|
|2.||Nicolás Fuchs / Fernando Mussano
|ŠKODA FABIA R5||+ 2:12.8 min|
|3.||Hubert Ptaszek / Maciej Szczepaniak
|Ford Fiesta R5||+ 2:19.4 min|
|4.||Khalid Mohammad Al-Suwaidi / Marshall Clarke
|ŠKODA FABIA R5||+ 3:02.8 min|
The number of the day: 11
11 special stages were scheduled for the first day of the Rally Australia, making it almost half of the 23 stages in total. Front-runner Esapekka Lappi mastered the 90.99 kilometres at an average speed of 91.6 kilometres per hour. A ŠKODA FABIA R5 was the fastest car on all eleven stages – nine best times went to Lappi, Nicolás Fuchs in a privateer ŠKODA four-wheel drive came out on top once. On the special stage “Utungun II”, Lappi and Fuchs shared the best time.