M-Sport Ford World Rally Team has to settle for a fifth place as a best position after today’s four stretches of rally, with Finnish newcomer Esapekka Lappi who leads the way for the team after day one has come to its end.
The weather has made it difficult for the M-Sport drivers who have worked hard on the Friday’s stages that were driven in Norway and Sweden during the day. Several of the stages had gravel sections and some ice stain int the forest areas.
“The competition is so close and the top-five are separated by just 20 seconds. We’ve not been the most competitive out there today, but we’re not too far away and Esapekka is just 6.6 seconds shy of the podium which isn’t bad at all.” Richard Millener, Team Principal, said.
“The pace was pretty good in the slower sections, but we still have some work to do on the faster roads and need to try to eliminate those little mistakes which can be so costly on a rally like this. That said, we’re not even at the halfway-point yet and anything can still happen so we’ll keep pushing and keep up the pressure.”
Lappi is now only 6.6 seconds behind the guys in the top-three, but there remains much of the rally that can be changed in just a few seconds in this rally which has been nicknamed ‘Svenska Grusrallyt’ (Swedish Gravel Rally) for this years’ edition.
“It’s been quite a consistent day for us. We can’t match the guys at the front which is a bit frustrating, but we are best of the rest and I’m happy with that.” Lappi said.
“I’m really trying and was twice in the ditch already – losing a couple of seconds with that – but I feel that we can still improve. If we can make some small changes to the set-up then I think the pace can be better and tomorrow is a new day so for sure it’s not over yet. We’ll keep trying and keep pushing until the end.”
Lappi’s teammate Teemu Suninen had drama among the trees yesterday at shakedown when the back of his Fiesta lost grip on a left turn so he spun around. Today, there has been a lot of improvement for the young Finn, who is in seventh place in the overall standing.
“The conditions have been quite challenging today with a lot of gravel making it tricky to judge the grip. We didn’t have the pace we wanted in the fast sections and that’s something we know we need to work on. But the pace was a lot better in the slower sections and we’ll keep pushing tomorrow.” Suninen said.
Rally Sweden day two starts tomorrow morning with two stages in Norway and later two in Sweden, today’s stages will get repeated and weather forecast promises snow during the night.