Lappi wins in Switzerland

Lappi wins in SwitzerlandFrom Skoda Press [ 25/10/2014 ].
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The European Rally Champion will be a ŠKODA Fabia Super 2000 driver once again this year. The works drivers Esapekka Lappi/Janne Ferm (FIN/FIN) extended their lead in the overall standings with their victory at the “Rallye International du Valais”, the penultimate race of the FIA European Rally Championship (ERC) season. Only their brand colleagues Sepp Wiegand/Frank Christian (D/D) can prevent them from winning the ERC title for drivers and co-drivers now. The duo from the ŠKODA AUTO Deutschland team finished third at the rally in the Swiss canton of Valais.

“I’d like to congratulate both sets of drivers on this fantastic result,” said ŠKODA Motorsport Director Michal Hrabánek. “Once again our two ŠKODA Fabia Super 2000s ran like Swiss watches. Finishing with both cars on the podium – that’s the result of the professional performance of the whole team this weekend. We’re delighted that the ERC title will now be decided among two ŠKODA driver teams. After successes in the APRC and in three national championships in 2014 already, this result in the ERC is another golden chapter in the successful history of the ŠKODA Fabia Super 2000.”

The “Rallye International du Valais” went ŠKODA’s way for the second time in a row. Lappi/Ferm won the ERC race in the Swiss Alps last year – and this year ŠKODA was at the top on all three rally days. In the night from Thursday to Friday, Wiegand/Christian went to bed as the front runners of an ERC race for the first time, before Lappi/Ferm took the lead on the second day and kept hold of it right until the finish on Saturday evening.

“The whole weekend went perfectly for us,” said Lappi. “Janne and I are incredibly proud to have won in Switzerland for the second time. I would like to thank the whole team for their fantastic work. We’re in a great position in the championship now and travel to the final race in Corsica with a good feeling.” After success in Latvia and Northern Ireland this year it was the third victory of the year for the Finns.

“It was an incredibly exhausting rally for us,” said Wiegand after his fourth ERC podium spot this season. “We started well but were then unlucky, for example with the tyre damage on Friday. That’s why we’re all the more delighted to have finished in third place here. It means that Frank and I are still even in with a chance of winning the European championship.”

While the battle for the ERC crown is still open, the FIA Asia-Pacific Rally Championship (APRC) has already been decided. ŠKODA won the manufacturers’ and drivers’ standings of the APRC for the third time in a row*. ŠKODA works driver Jan Kopecký (CZ) also secured the drivers title before the end of the season – ahead of his team-mate Gaurav Gill (IND), who won the championship last year. European champion Kopecký is the first rally driver to have won the ERC and then the APRC in two consecutive years. The big season finale of the APRC will take place on 8 and 9 November in ŠKODA’s biggest market, China.

These victories and championship titles are inextricably linked to the successful Fabia Super 2000. The high-tech four-wheel drive from Mladá Boleslav has also been successful in national rally championships. Belgium’s rally old hand “Fast” Freddy Loix, who won the FIA European Rally Championship race in his home country in the Fabia Super 2000 in June, won the Belgian championship title. Before that, Pedro Meireles (P), supported by ŠKODA Portugal, won the championship in Portugal. Old hand Raimund Baumschlager (A) also won his twelfth rally championship title overall in Austria in the Fabia Super 2000.

* Subject to the official publication of the results by the FIA.

Number of the day: 6

Esapekka Lappi looks likely to win the European Rally Championship going into the ERC season finale. If the Finn picks up at least six championship points in Corsica at the final race of the year, the 23-year-old from Naarajärvi will have won his first international title.