Lappi resists Ogier pressure for México lead

Esapekka Lappi continues to lead Rally México but with Sébastien Ogier right on his tail

Esapekka Lappi

Esapekka Lappi continues to lead Rally México but is under heavy pressure from Sébastien Ogier.

Ogier looked on the pace to beat Lappi and potentially take the rally lead after the opening two splits of SS4.

But Lappi began to bring some of that time back, still losing 0.4s to the Toyota driver but staying in front by 0.8s overall.

Sebastien Ogier

And he is optimistic that this afternoon’s pass will be an improvement, while admitting it might need to be.

“The beginning of the stage I didn’t do so well, but in the second part I was much better,” said Lappi. “I need to improve on the second pass.”

World Rally Championship leader Ott Tänak is still running following his SS3 turbo problem, but only at a slow speed – three minutes off the lead pace on SS4 and now 10m25s away from the front overall.

After a turbo issue that forced him to stop on El Chocolate, Tänak made it to the next stage but continued to crawl through, with making the midday service now his only objective.

The 35-year-old is now the only Ford Puma Rally1 to still be running after both Pierre-Louis Loubet and Jourdan Serderidis ran into problems on Friday’s opening stage.

But when asked at the stage end if he’d be able to make a fix, Tänak didn’t sound too confident.

“I don’t know… we will see,” he said.

Elfyn Evans currently sits third, as Dani Sordo and Kalle Rovanperä round out the top five.

Rovanperä complained of a vicious bump that had appeared since the recce earlier in the week.

This was also the case for Thierry Neuville, whose Hyundai got airborne on the same bump and landed quite dramatically.

“It was crazy, and very, very painful,” he explained.

“We didn’t expect that to be honest, it came like a surprise and I thought we were going to go off because the car was like this and I couldn’t see the road.

“It was in a really fast section as well. But luckily we are here and the car is working more or less.”

Takamoto Katsuta, who is celebrating his 30th birthday today, sits seventh behind Neuville but was complaining of smoke inside his Toyota and will be hoping that issue does not worsen before service.

Words:Adam Proud