FIA World Rally Championship

Suninen fights for the top spot, Lappi’s car burned down to the ground

3 Mins read
Credit: M-Sport

M-Sport Ford World Rally Team is having a mixed results already after the first full-day, the team’s young Flying Finn Teemu Suninen is turning things all around as he sits in the second place after Friday evening with 13.2 seconds down to rally leader Sébastien Ogier.

Suninen showed already no mercy as he went fastest through the first Shakedown pass on Thursday morning and had a solid start on the two opening-stages on Thursday evening.

Already on the morning loop of Friday, Suninen already put himself in second place and as other drivers were having problems, the Finn continued to stay strong and he is now challenging for the top spot after day two.

Credit: M-Sport

“It’s been a really good and trouble-free day for us. I was sending the car into the corners and driving on the limits – which is what you need to do if you want to push for the top results at this level. We will try and hold our podium place tomorrow, but at the same time I want to make sure I bring the car to the finish and will focus on myself and on continuing the good rhythm we had today.” Suninen said.

Gus Greensmith who is making his second appearance in the third Ford Fiesta WRC this season is also in a good position as he is currently sixth overall after day two. He has hoped for a better start for the weekend but is happy to be where he is now.

Credit: M-Sport

“I just haven’t been able to get into my rhythm today and I’m a long way off where I wanted to be. We’ve not had the speed we were hoping for, but Teemu has proven that the car is quick so it’s all down to me! The objective now is just to focus on improvements, and bring the car home for some good points.” Greensmith said.

The day ended really bad for the M-Sport’s newcomer Esapekka Lappi as his Ford Fiesta WRC caught fire at the end of El Chocolate stage, fire marshalls tried to put the flames out but wouldn’t work so Lappi decided to drive away to put the fire out, he had to stop as he lost the brakes and car went up in fire and burned down to the ground.

He was currently fourth overall when that disaster happend but both him and Janne Ferm escaped the fire without any harm. There’s no reason yet to what caused the car to catch fire.

Credit: M-Sport

“On the stop line we understood that the rear of the car was on fire, but in that moment I didn’t realise how bad it was. We tried to put it out and drove on to a safer place, but when I lost the brakes I realised it was still burning quite bad – and jumped out as quickly as I could!” Lappi said.

“I don’t know what caused it as there was no issue on the stage and it was actually a pretty good time. We were going well and fighting for the podium, so it’s a really big disappointment for us and for the whole team. But everyone is okay, and that is the most important thing right now.”

“Teemu is doing really well and this is exactly the performance he needs right now. We all know what he’s capable of, and he’s proving that this weekend. It’s great to see him getting back into his rhythm, and he’s in the fight for a top result which is exactly where we want to be. Gus is also having a solid drive – getting that experience under his belt and improving stage by stage.” Richard Millener, Team Principal, said.

Credit: M-Sport

“But we also suffered a big blow today – Esapekka having to retire from the event when his Fiesta caught fire at the end of SS7. It’s hard to tell exactly what happened, but it looks as though some hot oil may have leaked onto the exhaust. Everyone tried their best to put out the flames, but once these cars go up it’s almost impossible to stop – so full credit to Esapekka and Janne for getting it to a safe place.”

“It’s no secret that this loss will really have a big impact on M-Sport – and we don’t know when the championship will resume which makes the situation really difficult right now. But despite all of this and all of the repercussions, the most important thing is that everyone is safe and unharmed.” Millener added.

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