Why Lappi wasn’t penalized for starting a stage late

Lappi started SS3 of Rally Estonia four minutes late but escaped a penalty following confusion at the stage-start


At the end of Rally Estonia’s first full day, Esapekka Lappi is sitting pretty – third overnight and just 12.2 seconds adrift of the leader Kalle Rovanperä.

But Friday had initially looked to be a day of disaster for Lappi; particularly when news filtered through that he had started the second stage of the day, Mustvee, four minutes late.

Sharing the lead with Elfyn Evans after Thursday evening’s superspecial, Lappi’s day unraveled within the first kilometer.

Cresting a jump with a large drop on the first stage, Lappi lost his hybrid system upon landing and was therefore forced to battle on without the benefit of the extra 130bhp. That’s bad news anywhere, but particularly bad in Estonia.


That the Finn ended the morning loop fourth was testament to his strong pace, which he duly proved in the afternoon.

But the immediate assumption many onlookers had was that he should’ve been handed a 40s penalty, given he was due to start SS3 at 10.13am local time but instead went in at 10.17am.

So why wasn’t Lappi penalized?

“I think the green light [indicating the safety of the hybrid] flashed,” Lappi told DirtFish, “so the marshal was a bit scared what was going to happen, and that’s it.

“Then he said that you cannot go so I reversed off from the start-line, and then when I jumped out the [car the] green light was on.

“So something like this.”

A television replay indeed picked up Lappi running back to the car and then heading to the start-line, with Takamoto Katsuta – the car behind Lappi in the running order – backing up to allow Lappi in.

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In the end it became a distant memory for Lappi who had another impressive day as a Hyundai driver.

Although he feels Rovanperä will disappear tomorrow, Lappi has designs on climbing up the podium.

“We need to understand that Kalle will have the same starting position tomorrow so he will kill everyone,” he said.

“But second position is possible.”