Lappi inches slightly further clear of Ogier

Esapekka Lappi starts Rally México Friday afternoon with a useful stage win

2023MEXICO_FD_ 124

Esapekka Lappi is showing no signs of slowing on Rally México, once again extending his lead over Sébastien Ogier and now 2.2s clear.

Lappi headed into the midday service with a 1.4s lead over Ogier and was keen to improve upon his performance come the afternoon.

He held the cards at the first split on the second pass of El Chocolate, but Ogier gradually worked away at that advantage as the stage progressed.

However the Hyundai driver responded at the end of the stage, with a strong performance to maintain the lead he has held since today’s first stage.

“Just clean. You cannot attack or you will crash. Staying on the line is the key,” Lappi said.

“It’s never perfect but it’s quite good.”

Ogier sounded confident at the stage end, despite ending up losing time to the leader.

“It’s good,” he said. “I had a good stage, so I am happy with this one.”

The battle for third continued as Dani Sordo dropped half a second to Elfyn Evans and sits 1.1s behind the Toyota.

This was despite Evans being unhappy with his stage, complaining about it being quite slippery.

2023MEXICO_FD_ 167

Thierry Neuville extended his advantage in fifth over Kalle Rovanperä by three seconds and was pleased with his performance on the first stage of the afternoon but surprised the time wasn’t faster.

“I had a really good one, no mistakes, very clean, trying to manage the tires all the way along and I thought it was better than that to be honest,” he said.

“Maybe the soft was still giving a bit more traction but it was quite hot so I’m surprised.”

Following his turbo woes earlier, Ott Tänak was back up to full speed after his M-Sport mechanics resolved the problem that forced him to complete all of the morning loop at a crawling pace.

But running first on the road meant he was still 29s down on stage pacesetter Lappi and 13 minutes adrift overall now.

Words:Adam Proud