Home Sports Rally Rally of Sweden: Katsuta out, Lappi in the clear

Rally of Sweden: Katsuta out, Lappi in the clear

 

Esapekka Lappi’s pursuit of a second FIA World Rally Championship victory remains on track after the Finn completed Saturday loop of three stages leading Rally Sweden by almost 90 seconds.

Channel 1

KBC TV is showing live the in progress Rally of Sweden.

Out in front on his first start of 2024 following Friday’s dramatic opening leg, the Hyundai i20 N Rally1 Hybrid driver had been in a close fight with Toyota’s Takamoto Katsuta. But when Katsuta crashed out on today’s second stage, Lappi was left in the clear.

“Sure, it is harder [mentally now],” the Finn admitted when asked about his approach given his 1min 24.3sec advantage. “I was over-safe, but I don’t know what else I should do, to be honest. The time is what it is. We are not touching the banks. The last kilometres [of SS11] were really messy with no grip at all.”

Following his Friday heroics, Katsuta began leg two 3.2sec behind Lappi. He narrowed that gap to 0.9sec with a determined charge through Saturday’s first test, the 15.65km run of Vännäs. But his hopes of a maiden WRC victory were dashed when the Japanese plunged his Toyota GR Yaris Rally1 Hybrid into a snowbank 3.4km from the start of SS10 while pressing Lappi for the lead. Despite their efforts to dig their car out of the snow, Katsuta and co-driver Aaron Johnston were forced to retire for the day.

After demoting WRC2 leader Oliver Solberg in the battle for third on SS9, Adrien Fourmaux moved into second when Katsuta stopped on the next stage. The M-Sport Ford World Rally Team driver then underlined his potential by landing his fourth WRC career stage win on SS11 to cement second place in the overall order.

“For sure, I had a really good stage,” Fourmaux said after winning SS11 in his Ford Puma Rally1 Hybrid. “We changed a little bit the set-up before that one and found something really good. There was more cleaning on that stage, which helped us also, but to be fair, I’m quite happy with my pace on that one. It could be my first podium [this weekend], so we need to stay on the road now.”

Having been hampered by opening the road for much of Friday afternoon’s loop, Elfyn Evans missed out on winning SS9 by 0.3sec before his third-fastest time on SS10 elevated him onto the final step of the provisional podium, 11.4sec behind Fourmaux. But after the Toyota driver “scooped a snowbank on the inside of a corner” and “lost loads of power” as a result, he headed back to midday service 16.2sec behind the flying Frenchman.

 

 

 

 

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