Esapekka Lappi came, saw and conquered Rally Liepāja at the previous weekend. And this is how Škoda Motorsport’s latest flying Finn took top spot with co-driver Janne Ferm on round two of the FIA European Rally Championship.
- Esapekka Lappi (Aigars Tīdmanis, www.go4speed.lv)
First place on your first visit to Latvia – what did you do to make the difference?
“We have been clever with the Michelin tyres, looking after them well and [changing] them at the right time. We were also trying to be as clean as possible. On the first day there was too much snow on the road and our road position was not good. We were a bit slower but then we come back and climbed to the top.”
How difficult was it catching and then passing Vasily Gryazin, who like you drove a very good rally?
“We were a long time in fighting mode to get a victory like this and thanks to Vasily for a good fight. It was difficult because sometimes the conditions were not easy and you couldn’t afford to make a mistake.”
Is that why you lost time – and the lead – on Sunday’s first stage?
“There was more gravel than yesterday but there was still some loose snow. If you put the rear tyres out of the line you have a slide so you have to be careful. I was not pushing too hard, checking the other guy’s speed and finding my feeling with my car.”
Did you enjoy being in such a close fight or did it make your job harder?
“It’s really nice we have a battle, it’s been a long time I have done that. It’s more fun and more interesting, more excitement all the time and you have to be all the time very focused 100 per cent. If you have a one-minute gap you just drive through and it’s not so important if you run wide at a junction. Now it is.”
Is it tough when the battle is so close?
“For sure there is a pressure. But if you make a mistake you drop only to second place because to third there is a big gap. But there is excitement, especially when the starting positions are more equal [on the second pass]. When it’s clean it’s more enjoyable, you can push and this is nice.”
How much did you learn on this rally?
“I don’t know if I am learning from the others but I am learning myself. This battle for the victory was a good learning process for me. It was the perfect weekend with no problems at all and nice to start the season like this.”