Esapekka Lappi has recounted his dramatic crash from the Rally México lead and subsequent efforts to prevent the fire on his Hyundai from getting out of control.
Lappi was leading Sébastien Ogier by five seconds going into Saturday’s stages when he spun and struck an electricity pole with the back of his car.
“There was a short left over crest, but the previous corner is a bit on the right with the cut,” Lappi told DirtFish.
“I think I was a bit stuck on the cut, and later on the entry on the left here, and then the outside of the corner narrows and I touched that one and it span me out, and I hit the pole with the rear.”
A fire then started in the Hyundai’s engine bay after Lappi and co-driver Janne Ferm got out and the stage was stopped.
Gus Greensmith, next on the road, provided his fire extinguisher to help Lappi tackle the flames after he exhausted his own.
“Actually in the beginning there was nothing,” Lappi said of the fire.
“So we jumped out, we pressed OK then I pressed that the road is blocked, but I think after half a minute or one minute it started to burn from the engine bay.
“I finished my extinguisher and also tried the car system but nothing helped.
“Luckily I got the extinguisher from Gus which then helped, I managed to shut down the fire.
“I was sure it was going to burn, there was so much flames in the engine bay already, and then the firetruck came in the end and I managed to cool it down completely with the big extinguishers, so yeah all OK in terms of that.”
Sparks from the wires on the pole Lappi struck suggested it was still live as it teetered over the Hyundai after being hit.
“I saw some blue fire on the wires, so I’m not actually sure is it anymore power because there was some sparks and blue fire on the pole,” said Lappi.
“But I had a helmet on and everything so I didn’t give a f**k you know, I just tried to shut down the fire!
“Maybe it was stupid but when you have a lot of adrenaline you just sometimes don’t think about yourself too much.”
Lappi had described fending Ogier off on Friday as one of the best days of his career.
He felt the crash that ended his brilliant run was ultimately a small mistake with big consequences.
“It’s for sure about small margins but sometimes this happens,” Lappi added. “We just need to swallow it and move on.”