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A young Finnish star has emerged as a possible winner of November’s Rally Australia.

Esapekka Lappi will contest Rally Australia in November.Twenty-six year old Esapekka Lappi has contested just two events in Toyota’s Yaris World Rally Car, but has already set six fastest stage times, including the Power Stage in Italy.

The 2016 WRC2 World Champion for Skoda, Lappi contested Rally Australia last year, so knows the Coffs Harbour stages well and could be a real dark horse come November.

With an advantageous start position that will see the slippery gravel roads well swept before he arrives, Lappi will have a genuine chance of victory.

Initially, Toyota boss, Tommi Makinen, was expected to only send two cars Down Under, however Lappi’s incredible pace will see him join team-mates Jari-Matti Latvala and Juho Hanninen in Australia.

The Coffs Harbour based event should see at least 12 of the new-generation 2017 World Rally Cars taking part, ensuring record spectator numbers.

Likely WRC entries:

M-Sport: Sebastien Ogier, Ott Tanak, Elfyn Evans

Hyundai: Thierry Neuville, Hayden Paddon, Dani Sordo

Toyota: Jari-Matti Latvala, Juho Hanninen, Esapekka Lappi

Only Citroen’s squad seems uncertain at this stage, although it is expected that Kris Meeke will be back in the team by then, partnering Craig Breen and Stephane Lefebvre.

There is also a slim chance that Mads Ostberg could bring his privately-entered Fiesta WRC to Australia, while the WRC program of Andreas Mikkelsen is unknown after the next event in Poland.

Rally Australia is the final round of the World Rally Championship, and could see the title decided on the November 17 to 19 event.

- Peter Whitten

Lappi dust Italy

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