Exclusive access from $6.55/month
Finland’s Esapekka Lappi has regained the lead of the 2013 Asia-Pacific Rally Championship after a convincing victory in the International Rally of Queensland on July 13 and 14.

Lappi’s victory was the third in a row for the Team MRF Skoda Fabia S2000s, after victories in New Zealand and New Caledonia.

While Lappi and co-driver, Janne Ferm, claimed the win, their team-mates, Indian Gaurav Gill and Australian Glenn Macneall, were forced to retired from the event with broken rear suspension on day two, dropping them to third in the title race.

Twenty-two year old Lappi was appearing in an Australian event for the first time, and took some time to get used to the tight and twisty nature of the Queensland stages.

Having competed in the event before, Gill was confident of taking his second consecutive victory, but a puncture early in the event cost him over two minutes and allowed Lappi to control the event from the front.

After rain during the pre-event reconnaissance, weather conditions remained fine for the rally, although some of the stages were quite rough, putting a strain on mechanical components.

However, it was plain sailing for Lappi, the 2012 Finnish Champion, as he took a satisfying win, which also extended Skoda and Team MRF’s lead in the Manufacturers’ Championship.

“This win means a lot and is really good for the championship,” Lappi explained. “It’s sad our team-mate Gaurav had some problems and had to retire, but we certainly enjoyed the rally.
"The first two stages on day two were very, very slippery. It was really difficult, but we didn't have to push and just stayed in the middle of the road.

"After Gaurav retired we just toured around slowly and carefully. It was very important to have a victory here and get maximum points.

"It's nicer to win after a tough fight, but a win is a win and it's always nice."

Gill took the fastest time on two of the second day’s stages, but his luck ran out when a rear shock absorber failed on a straight piece of road, leaving the wheel dragging on the ground and forcing his retirement.

“It broke off in a straight piece of road,” Gill said.

“I didn’t hit anything, but maybe it had fractures in it from somewhere else. I’m really disappointed, but we will fight back on the next round in Malaysia.”

The win also say Team MRF claim the Team Trophy award for the International Rally of Queensland.

Heading into round four of the Asia-Pacific Rally Championship in Malaysia, from August 24-25, Lappi leads Indian driver, Sanjay Takale, by three points, with Gill a further four points in arrears.

Skoda lead the Manufacturers’ battle by 37.5 points from Subaru, with Mitsubishi in third place.

FIA APRC RESULTS (after 21 special stages, 222.91 kilometres):
1 Esapekka Lappi (FIN)/Janne Ferm (FIN) ŠKODA Fabia Super 2000 2h08m43.8s
2 Simon Knowles (AUS)/Margot Knowles (AUS) Mitsubishi Lancer Evo IX +20m14.6s*
3 Sanjay Takale (IND)/Sean Gregory (MYS) Subaru Impreza WRX STI +20m14.3s
4 Hiroshi Asakura (JPN)/Osamu Yoda (JPN) PROTON Satria Neo +37m50.7s
* Registered for FIA Pacific Cup points only

FIA APRC Production Cup: Sanjay Takale (IND)/Sean Gregory (MYS)
FIA APRC Team Trophy: Team MRF ŠKODA
FIA Pacific Cup winner: Simon Knowles (AUS)/Margot Knowles (AUS)
FIA APRC Junior Cup: No eligible finishers
FIA APRC Rally Cup 2WD: Hiroshi Asakura (JPN)/Osamu Yoda (JPN)

CHAMPIONSHIP POSITIONS:

Overall drivers:
1. Lappi 78pts; 2. Takale 75; 3. Gaurav Gill 71.5; 4. Michael Young 28; 5. Hiroshi Asakura 28.

Overall co-drivers:
1. Ferm 78; 2. Gregory 75; 3. Glenn Macneall 71.5; 4. Daniel Willson 28; 5. Osamu Yoda 23; 6. Takumi Takahashi 5.

Manufacturers:
1. ŠKODA 113.5; 2. Subaru 76; 3. Mitsubishi 71.5; 4. PROTON 18; 5. Toyota 14.

Photos courtesy of: APSM TV (Asia Pacific Sports Media and TV)
Get full, exclusive access for only $6.55/month.
  • Full access
  • Exclusive news
  • Store & Tour discounts

Show Your Support

Author

Recent Posts