Lappi’s other key role in Hyundai’s first win of the year

Esapekka Lappi discovered something in Hyundai's pre-Sardinia test in Finland which worked wonders

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It’s eight years since Hyundai went past round five without a World Rally Championship win. The Frankfurt-based squad arrived in Olbia very much needing to inhabit the podium’s top step come Sunday.

Thierry Neuville delivered just that. He unlocked the secret. And this time there was something of a secret. The Belgian’s first win of the year wasn’t born out of an inspired tire choice or a stellar setup from his pre-event test.

It was found on a wet and wholly unrepresentative road in central Finland. And it was found by a Finn.

Neuville delivered the present to his Korean paymasters with a worthy drive, but he was quick to admit he’d had help wrapping that present from team-mate Esapekka Lappi.


Lappi was the one who unlocked the secret in a Finnish test just days before the start on the Italian island.

Discussing his front-running pace in Sardinia, Lappi told DirtFish: “We did a good job also last week in Finland. This is actually because of that: we introduced some new parts which were better. We had the new dampers which were better.

“I’m sure this was the biggest reason for the step up with our speed, our performance.

“I don’t want to go into the details more, but we made completely, not completely, but a new setting which felt really good already in Finland on the small road. And then I took a risk. I take it here as I felt I don’t want to go with the same setting which we had in Portugal – because we know what’s the speed with that.

“So I wanted to try something else and it’s working.”

Spotting his team-mate’s rally leading pace, Neuville chased the same setup.

Asked if his long-time Hyundai team-mate was learning from the new boy, Lappi added: “Yeah, he took the same setting, same new parts, same dampers. So yes, he is.”

Typically honest, Neuville didn’t shy away from praising his team-mate.

“He seems to feel better in the car at the moment than I do,” said Neuville. “We have made some steps, definitely, but we still need to improve. In some of the conditions sometimes we can go fast, but just the feeling is not good, and when the feeling is not good we tend to make mistakes.

“We still need to work on that. It went better for me throughout the weekend, but I still feel like it’s not 100%.”