Citroën’s Esapekka Lappi stunned his more illustrious FIA World Rally Championship rivals to snatch a lead of 17.7 seconds after six punishing gravel special stages of Rally Turkey on Friday.
Abrasive stage surfaces, large rocks, critical tyre choices, heavy rain on one stage and the threat of the unknown forced every driver to err on the side of caution to protect their cars. But Lappi and co-driver Janne Ferm guided their C3 WRC to a stage win and a useful overnight advantage over team-mate and six-time World Champion Sébastien Ogier.
Like Ogier, Hyundai’s Thierry Neuville kept his title hopes alive with a stage win and third overall, a useful tyre choice in the rain on the longest stage of the day helping the Belgian finish the leg just 0.7s behind his French title rival.
M-Sport Ford’s Teemu Suninen stayed clear of serious trouble to hold fourth overall and joint overnight leader Andreas Mikkelsen rounded off the top five in the second works Hyundai.
A fastest time on the last stage of the day enabled Dani Sordo to leap frog both Kris Meeke and Ott Tänak to snatch sixth place, the Spaniard having lost a lot of time with a flat tyre in SS2. A puncture proved costly for series leader Tänak as well and the Estonian now trails the overnight leader by 1min 37.4s.
Meeke, likewise, had tyre issues and a broken jacking point on the Yaris, although he did claim a stage win.
The Ulsterman’s Toyota team-mate Jari-Matti Latvala claimed two stage wins, but a puncture, a less advangeous tyre choice and little niggling issues cost the Finn the outright lead he held at the end of SS2. He held ninth place with M-Sport Ford’s Pontus Tidemand rounding off the top 10 on his return to the main factory team.
Friday the 13th placed its curse on FIA WRC 2 Pro leader Kalle Rovanperä. The Finn sustained a puncture and a roll in his Škoda R5 on the opener and then two further flat tyres put him out of the running for the rest of the day.
A flat tyre on the Ford Fiesta of his rival Gus Greensmith played into Rovanperä’s team-mate Jan Kopecky’s hands and the Czech headed to the night halt 1min 22.8s in front of the Brito, after erring on the side of caution towards the end.
11th-placed Polish driver Kajetan Kajetanowicz dominated the FIA WRC 2 section and finished the day over three minutes ahead of young Bolivian Marco Bulacia after veteran Norwegian Henning Solberg lost a lot of time in the sixth stage. Italy’s Fabio Andolfi holds third place.
2019 Rally Turkey – Unofficial results after Section 3:
|1. Esapekka Lappi (FIN) / Janne Ferm (FIN)||Citroën C3 WRC||1hr 59min 53.7sec|
|2. Sébastien Ogier (FRA) / Julien Ingrassia (FRA)||Citroën C3 WRC||2hr 00min 11.4sec|
|3. Thierry Neuville (BEL) / Nicolas Gilsoul (BEL)||Hyundai i20 Coupe WRC||2hr 00min 12.1sec|
|4. Teemu Suninen (FIN) / Marko Salminen (FIN)||Ford Fiesta WRC||2hr 00min 38.1sec|
|5. Andreas Mikkelsen (NOR) / Anders Jaeger-Amland (NOR)||Hyundai i20 Coupe WRC||2hr 00min 57.8sec|
|6. Dani Sordo (SPA) / Carlos Del Barrio (SPA)||Hyundai i20 Coupe WRC||2hr 01min 18.9sec|
|7. Kris Meeke (GBR) / Sebastian Marshall (GBR)||Toyota Yaris WRC||2hr 01min 25.8sec|
|8. Ott Tänak (EST) / Martin Järveoja (EST)||Toyota Yaris WRC||2hr 01min 31.1sec|
|9. Jari-Matti Latvala (FIN) / Mikka Anttila||Toyota Yaris WRC||2hr 01min 36.2sec|
|10. Pontus Tidemand (SWE) / Ola Floene (NOR)||Ford Fiesta WRC||2hr 03min 39.1sec|