The cause of the fire that gutted Esapekka Lappi’s Ford Fiesta WRC on Rally México is unlikely to ever be discovered, according to M-Sport Ford team principal Richard Millener.
The burned-out chassis, along with the other M-Sport Fiestas, arrived back at the World Rally Championship team’s Dovenby Hall HQ late this week.
Lappi’s car caught fire at the end of Friday afternoon’s re-run El Chocolate test, and was burning out of control within minutes.
The Finn, who was running fourth, could only guess at the cause when he spoke to DirtFish.
“I don’t think it was a leak from brake fluid or something like that,” Lappi said. “The pedal was solid at the stop [line].
“I don’t know, it must have been fuel or oil or something to go so quickly. We had nothing, no warning in the stage, but then it was gone. I drove away from the stop line because this is what you do when you have a small fire, it blows it out with the airflow.
“But there was nothing we could do this time.”
Millener said an investigation into the fire was underway now the M-Sport cars were back at the team’s base.
“We’re looking into it, but it’s pretty much all gone and it’s going to be a struggle to find anything out,” he told DirtFish.
“We’ve looked back at the onboard a lot of times and it looks like it [the fire] could have originated at the front of the car; flames are visible under the bonnet.
“Once the car is moving the flames probably come back along the transmission tunnel and all that heat and oxygen provides the perfect breeding ground for the fire to build.
“Once you see the back of the car alight, you know it’s pretty much gone. Once certain elements are burning it’s very, very difficult to get it out; a tyre, for example, is like a long-term fire-lighter. These things just keep on feeding the fire.”