Esapekka Lappi (Hyundai) won the first special of the Sardinia rally on Thursday. The Finn takes control, ahead of Ott Tänak (M-Sport) and Thierry Neuville (Hyundai). Sébastien Ogier (Toyota) is in 6th place at the end of this unique special of the day.
Sébastien Ogier (Toyota) starts slowly, Esapekka Lappi (Hyundai) sets the tone. On Thursday, during the first special and only special of this first day on the Sardinia rally, the Finn proved to be the fastest, completing the 3.20 kilometers between Olbia and Cabu Abbas in 2’24”9. Lappi was ahead of Estonian Ott Tänak (M-Sport), second in this first special, by two tenths and Belgian Thierry Neuville (Hyundai) by five tenths. Lappi thus takes control of this sixth round of the WRC World Championship season.
“It was nice, you can play with the car as you want on gravel, it’s really fun as a special”, appreciated the first leader, who had already set the best time in the shakedown, a little earlier, six tenths in front of Neuville. Before getting down to business, Friday during the big day on the weekend program (including a special 50-kilometre marathon on the menu to be done twice), Tänak, 8th in the shakedown, was not hiding his satisfaction either. . “We did a good job between the rallies, it was necessary after Portugal. I wouldn’t say we should be too confident, but for sure we are better than in Portugal. »
Ogier starts slowly
A more difficult start, however, for Sébastien Ogier (Toyota). Absent in Portugal, where his rival for the title Kalle Rovanperä had added 30 points to his counter, the Gapençais eight times world champions in the category is making his return this weekend in Sardinia, where he hopes to catch up on the young Finn became the youngest WRC world champion in history last year. Twenty-nine points separate the two men.
Ogier currently occupies 6th place in the rally, after finishing 6th in this SS1, 1”3 behind Lappi. Rovanperä ranks 5th, at 1”2. “There will be complicated specials, the weather is unpredictable, it promises to be difficult, we will try to have fun”, analyzed Thursday evening the French pilot, on the eve of a first day which could create a first selection .