The Rally Great Britain got off to an outstanding start for the Finnish ŠKODA works crew Esapekka Lappi / Janne Ferm. The “Flying Finns” in the ŠKODA FABIA R5 lived up to their nickname on day one of the traditional rally in Wales and have a comfortable lead in the overall standings of the WRC2 championship after eight special stages and 178.22 competitive kilometres against the clock.
Trailing by 46.7 seconds, Teemu Suninen / Mikko Markkula are in second place, driving a ŠKODA FABIA R5 for a privateer team Oreca. With Pontus Tidemand / Jonas Andersson in third place and Jan Kopecký / Pavel Dresler in fourth, they are followed by two more ŠKODA works crews.
Day one of the Rally Great Britain offered a thrilling spectacle for thousands of fans with a duel between WRC2 title contenders Lappi and Suninen. The penultimate rally of the FIA World Rally Championship (WRC) season started with a brief scare for Lappi, when he lost the ideal line on a left-hand bend in the first stage and damaged the rear of his ŠKODA. Despite this, he did not lose much time against Suninen, who took the best time on this section.
Lappi countered with best times on the following six straight special stages, took the overall lead in the WRC2 classification after just the third stage and extended this to put him 46.7 seconds ahead of second-placed Suninen by the end of the first day. The battle between the two WRC2 title contenders dominated day one of the Wales Rally GB.
Meanwhile, the two other ŠKODA works crews – Pontus Tidemand / Jonas Andersson and Jan Kopecký / Pavel Dresler – made a flawless start to the thirteenth round of the season. They go into Saturday’s rallying in third and fourth place overall, respectively. Both performed consistently throughout.
In the penultimate stage of the day, the winner of the 2016 Rally Portugal moved up into third place and edged ahead of his team-mate Kopecký. Following on from his win at the Rally Spain two weeks ago, the latter once again showed that he delivers top results even on loose surfaces. Kopecký is currently trailing third-placed Tidemand by 28.4 seconds. No fewer than four ŠKODA FABIA R5s are at the top of the overall WRC2 standings for the Rally Great Britain.
The teams face another eight special stages covering 99.91 kilometres at the Rally GB in Wales on Saturday.
|Wales Rally GB 2016 – WRC2 standings after the Leg 1:|
|1.||Esapekka Lappi / Janne Ferm
|ŠKODA FABIA R5||1:49:26.2 hrs|
|2.||Teemu Suninen / Mikko Markkula
|ŠKODA FABIA R5||+ 46.7 sec|
|3.||Pontus Tidemand / Jonas Andersson
|ŠKODA FABIA R5||+ 1:11.2 min|
|4.||Jan Kopecký / Pavel Dresler
|ŠKODA FABIA R5||+ 1:39.6 min|
|5.||Marius Aasen / Veronica Gulbæk Engan
|Ford Fiesta R5||+ 2:58.2 min|
The number of the day: 6
ŠKODA works driver Esapekka Lappi and his co-driver Janne Ferm totted up no less than six stage wins in a row on day one of the Wales Rally GB 2016. Only the first and last special stage went to their rivals. In between, the Finnish crew started working their way up to the top of the WRC2 standings in Wales.