Exclusive access from $6.55/month
Winter in Finland usually means snow and ice, but that country's national rally champion Esapekka Lappi turned his first Australian visit into an unbridled romp in the winter sun at the front of the International Rally of Queensland today.

Lappi, 22, won six of the day's 10 stages in Round 3 of the FIA Asia Pacific Rally Championship to finish just over two minutes ahead of his MRF Skoda teammate Gaurav Gill.

Japanese driver Atsushi Masamura was third in a Mitsubishi while the first Australian driver Adrian Coppins came home fourth – but 9.5 minutes behind the leader – in a Ford Fiesta R2.

The rally finishes in the Mary Valley township of Imbil, about two hours' drive north of Brisbane, after a further nine stages tomorrow and barring the unexpected the result is likely to be the same as it was today.

"It's not possible to make a challenge, two minutes is too much to make up so we'll just go for maximum points for the team," Gill said.

In fine, warm conditions, Lappi enjoyed a virtually untroubled run, especially after he overcame an initial lack of confidence on the tight forestry roads.

"I thought the roads would be worse this afternoon but they were better, not muddy, and I got a better rhythm," the Finnish Rally Champion said.

"I enjoyed myself and really liked the Pomona Dash stage.

"There is no plan for tomorrow. I'll just drive the stages and plan to finish. I don't mind if Gaurav is 1min. 59sec faster than me tomorrow, but I'll try not to let him beat me!"

Gill won the stages that Lappi didn't, but it would have been a closer contest if the two-time Indian champion and 2010 Queensland winner had not suffered an early puncture, then two spins attributed to a broken suspension anti-roll bar and malfunctioning rear differential.

After his mechanics changed the entire differential in less than 10 minutes, Gill twice beat Lappi on the afternoon re-run of the stages.

The Asia Pacific Rally Championship is one of the world's premier regional rally series and after Australia will visit Malaysia, Japan, China and India.
Gill leads the drivers' pointscore after a win in New Caledonia last month and second in Round one in New Zealand, but the highly-favoured Lappi is lagging in third after failing to finish in New Caledonia.

Under the watchful eye of his mentor, Skoda head of motorsport Michal Hrabanek, visiting this weekend from the Czech Republic, Lappi's goal is to win and earn points at all costs.

While the Asia Pacific cars enjoyed a relatively peaceful day's competition, there was plenty of action in Round 4 of the East Coast Bullbars Australian Rally Championship.

Brendan Reeves (Mazda) broke a driveshaft and Marius Swart rolled his Volkswagen, but in the end there was no change to the usual order at the front with Eli Evans in command in his exotic Italian-built Honda Jazz and Scott Pedder second in a Renault Clio.

A trouble-free day was what Evans needed as he bids for a record 10th straight win, but it could have ended almost before it began last night when he clouted a steel barrier heavily at the Nambour Showgrounds Power Stage and damaged his suspension.

The Asia Pacific cars resume at 8.30am tomorrow and face 112 kms of competition, including the event's longest stage, the 28.57 km win-or-bust Big Derrier, at the end of the day.

The winner is due on the podium at the Hella Service Park in Imbil Showgrounds at 3.15pm.

APRC results (after SS12)
 
1 LAPPI (Finland)/FERM (Finland) (Skoda Fabia) 1:04:25.8 Total time
2 GILL (India)/MACNEALL (New Zealand) (Skoda Fabia) +02:00.3 behind 1st
3 MASUMURA (Japan)/NAKAGAWA (Japan) (Mitsubishi Lancer Evo X) +07:39.8
4 COPPINS (Aust.)/BATTEN (Aust.) (Ford Fiesta R2) +09:31.6
5 KNOWLES (Aust.)/KNOWLES (Aust.) Mitsubishi Lancer Evo IX +10:18.2
Get full, exclusive access for only $6.55/month.
  • Full access
  • Exclusive news
  • Store & Tour discounts

Show Your Support

Author

Recent Posts