The setup difference that could boost Lappi’s Finland chances

He's taking a different approach to both of his team-mates on the opening loop of Rally Finland


Esapekka Lappi’s bid for Rally Finland victory will be boosted, he hopes, by a different setup than his Toyota team-mates Kalle Rovanperä and Elfyn Evans.

Evans displayed the difference the optimum setup can make last year as he broke clear on the second day and romped to an impressive victory while home favorite Rovanperä, fresh from a win on the Acropolis Rally, struggled and ultimately crashed.

Lappi, who was second fastest behind Rovanperä on Thursday morning’s shakedown, has set himself a target of at least a podium this weekend, but struggled to match his two team-mates in Estonia.

However, asked by DirtFish during the all-new Wednesday evening team talk show, if he’d found anything in his pre-event test to bridge the gap to Rovanperä and Evans, Lappi replied: “Yeah, I found something.”


Asked what it was specifically that he had found, Lappi explained that it was on the suspension.

“It’s the car setting which I will use on the first pass [and] the others will not,” he said.

“Maybe some of the drivers or one will use it on the second pass but not on the first.”

Rovanperä admitted he didn’t know what Lappi had found, and didn’t appear to be aware that his team-mate was deviating to his own setup as his initial response to DirtFish when asked was: “Ah nice, good for him.”

But as you’d expect for a driver with a handsome 83-point lead in the world championship, Rovanperä is super relaxed ahead of the weekend and showing real signs of Sébastien Ogier in his pre-event words.

“If we were in a tight [championship] fight or were behind, we can push from the word go and try to win it, for sure it’s a different game now,” he said.

“We know the situation, we need to finish, we need to have good points from every rally since the end of the year so yeah.”

But how does that manifest itself? Where will Rovanperä potentially ease off and avoid risks?


“That’s always a tricky question. I think it’s more of starting the rally, hopefully not going crazy and not doing anything stupid at the beginning of the rally and seeing where we are.

“If we are in the fighting pace of course we try to fight for it, I try to stay there but I think it means you should normally just leave the last crazy places out if you know that you can gain something small but it’s a stupid risk maybe you don’t do it that time.”

Even if Rovanperä’s talking himself out of victory, Toyota team principal Jari-Matti Latvala knows his squad has a good shot at success this weekend.

“The Yaris is basically born in Jyväskylä, it’s been tested, the development done over here only two kilometers away and we basically have two drivers who have won this event in the past and then we have two other young drivers who want to win this event, so we have a lot on the table this weekend to try and get the victory here,” Latvala told DirtFish.


And Latvala couldn’t care less which of the GR Yaris Rally1s tops the timesheets.

“Let’s say we are in a very lucky situation that the championship has been going very well for us, that makes life easier. We don’t like team orders, we don’t want to use them and it makes it easier when you know the championship is going well,” he said.

“But if the championship was tight and you know that your drivers want to fight for the victory and there is a risk that somebody goes off, you will lose the points. That would be a nerve breaking situation, but luckily we are not in that situation.”

All four drivers will then, as ever, be allowed to fight one another for victory. The ultimate question therefore is will Lappi’s setup direction prove the difference?

Realizing where DirtFish’s line of questioning was heading, Lappi played it down.

“After this kind of hype… what if I don’t succeed?” he smiled.

Where are you going to finish this weekend?


The battle for victory this weekend will be special either way, even if it’ll potentially only feature Toyotas.