Esapekka Lappi is in the Toyota lineup for one main reason: Contribute to the team’s World rally Championship points tally in the manufacturers’ standings.
On Rally Italy, he contributed nothing – at least in a points-scoring sense.
Both he and Elfyn Evans retired and returned under super rally. But with Evans going 0.1s faster than Lappi on the powerstage, it was Evans’ three points that went on the board in the makes’ title race.
On paper, both their rally-ending accidents were similar. Both hit a solid bit of bedrock sticking out where ruts had begun to form.
In Evans’ case it punctured the sump guard and led to overheating, his cooling package damaged beyond roadside repair. But for Lappi, it knocked him slightly off-line and into a hillside, one that his GR Yaris bounced off and sent into the path of a rock that ripped the left-rear wheel off.
He’d just taken the lead from Ott Tänak on the final stage the day before. His lead lasted only a few minutes.
Was he too keen to end his five-year wait for a second WRC win after his debut-season success in Finland?
Not so, according to the man himself.
“It was not mandatory to fight with Ott but I needed to keep my pace,” Lappi told DirtFish.
“The thing that happened, afterward, when we have analyzed, I couldn’t do much different actually because this rock was not visible on the recce. On my video you cannot see it; Elfyn didn’t have it on his pacenotes.
“So it was just these first eight cars were digging it out and I was the, let’s say, the unluckiest on this place, probably.
“Other than that, the speed has been good all weekend.”
Indeed the speed was good. Even the stage that brought his rally to an end, Tempio Pausiana, held promise – he’d been second-fastest there in 2020, when it was brand new to the whole field.
“It’s probably the most technical one on this rally and it’s completely different than the others. Also, the surface is sort of softer and very narrow in places,” explained Lappi.
You have such tricky places, not on every corner but after every second corner, so you need a lot of concentration on that one to do it right.”
Unfortunately for Lappi, it was one of those tricky places that ended his chance of a second career win in the WRC.