Lappi's winning drought ends in Sweden!

In contrast to the comparatively snow-free Alpes Maritime of round one, Rally Sweden saw an abundance and Esapekka Lappi scored a popular Rally Sweden victory, alongside co-driver and fellow Finn Janne Ferm. Lappi produced a faultless victory, just six years, six months, and 19 days since he won Rally Finland in 2017, his first and only WRC to date.

Lappi's winless period qualifies for the longest gap between WRC victories, which stood at five years and 359 days as jointly held by rally greats Shekhar Mehta and Jean-Luc Therier. Statistically Lappi is only the fifth Hyundai-powered driver to win a WRC round, giving Hyundai its 29th world championship victory in an event that saw Toyota and M-Sport Ford also on the podium.

Lappi started Rally Sweden's deciding leg of three stages on Sunday leading by 1min 06.3sec and with 18 WRC points banked for leading at the end of Saturday, but while his rivals adopted full-attack mode, Lappi kept a cool head to reach the finish unscathed with his lead intact. Even though his winning margin was trimmed to 29.6sec, victory was all that mattered to the Finn, who is embarking on a partial campaign for the Hyundai Shell Mobis World Rally Team in 2024.

Behind Lappi, Toyota's Elfyn Evans snatched second from Adrien Fourmaux when the Frenchman lost time striking a snowbank on Sunday's first test. But the M-Sport Ford Puma driver didn't let that moment knock him off his stride as he raced to his maiden WRC podium in third. Despite sliding his Toyota GR Yaris Rally1 Hybrid into a snowbank at high speed on SS17, Evans topped the Super Sunday classification to bag seven world championship points to add to the 13 he scored on Saturday under new rules for 2024. The Welshman, who also took four points on the Wolf Power Stage for an event total of 24, is now three points adrift of Thierry Neuville in the race for the 2024 WRC crown. But that could have been just two points behind Neuville had he not slid into another snowbank nearing the finish of the Wolf Power Stage, denying him the fastest time and five bonus points by 0.039sec.

Neuville, the winner of Rallye Monte-Carlo last month, fought back from fuel pressure issues and set-up problems to finish fourth, but with the rear of his Hyundai sporting significant cosmetic damage following a heavy Wolf Power Stage landing. While the Belgian's title lead has been cut from six to three points, his efforts helped Hyundai draw level with Toyota at the top of the FIA World Rally Championship for Manufacturers after two rounds.

The irrepressible Oliver Solberg won WRC2 for the second year running in fifth overall followed by category rivals Sami Pajari, Georg Linnamäe, Roope Korhonen and Mikko Heikkilä. Italy's Lorenzo Bertelli, making his second WRC start in as many years in a Toyota GR Yaris Rally 1, rounded out the top 10.

World champion Kalle Rovanperä claimed five points by setting the pace through the rally-deciding Wolf Power Stage following his Saturday morning restart. Ott Tänak, who also crashed out on Friday, scored six points via the Super Sunday classification and his Wolf Power Stage result.

Early rally leader Takamoto Katsuta's bid to salvage championship points following his off on Saturday's first stage suffered a setback when he spun at high-speed nearing the finish of SS17. The Japanese Toyota driver came away with three points. Perhaps it's appropriate that the winner has the last word:

"It feels really good, I've been hunting for this second victory for quite a while. I would like to say a million things but probably I'll forget many of them. But many thanks to Cyril [Abiteboul, Hyundai Motorsport president and team principal], he kept me in the team after a very bad second half last year. It's quite a massive contrast from that moment until now. So, thanks to the team and my family as well."

Next, the World Rally Championship circus heads to Africa for the fabulous Safari Rally Kenya, round three of the 2024 season, from 27 - 31 March.

WRC Drivers Championship after 2 of 13 rounds

1. Thierry Neuville 48
2. Elfyn Evans 45
3. Adrien Fourmaux 29
4. Sebastien Ogier 24
5. Ott Tanak 21
6. Esapekka Lappi 19
7. Takamoto Katsuta 12
8. Kalle Rovanpera 11
9. Oliver Solberg 8
10. Sami Pajari 6

Manufacturers Championship


18th February, 2024

Opel Ascona wins 26th Monte Carlo Historique!

Congratulations to the German crew of Michel Decremer/Jennifer Hugo, leaders of the rally for most of the week, for claiming a great victory earlier today in their Opel Ascona 400. Second was the Austin Cooper S of Giorgio Schon and Francesco Giammarino and third the Lancia Beta Coupe of Maurizio Aiolfi and Carlo Merenda. Results were declared final by the event stewards at 12:30 hrs Monaco time.

Of the 207 international crews that finished, the IRDC five car team were a commendable 8th from 25 teams and just a tantalizing 10 seconds behind the 7th team!

* Ritson & Michael Thomas Lancia Fulvia 1600 HF - 44th,
* Gordon & David Glen Opel Kadett GTE - 48th
* Stephen & Tony Graham Lancia Fulvia 1600 HF - 49th
* Rick Pearson & Stuart Pringle Lancia Fulvia 1.3S - 55th
* David Ring & Julian Marshall Datsun 240Z - 109th

The venerable Tyresoles Trophy for best IRDC performance was won by Ritson & Michael Thomas. Congratulations to all finishers!

7th February, 2024

Monte Carlo Historique 2024 - Latest News

Latest news after SR14 of the Rallye Monte Carlo Historique 2024 is that the German crew of Michel Decremer/Jennifer Hugo continues to lead the rally in their Opel Ascona 400, ahead of a gallant little Austin Cooper S and a Lancia Beta.

Of the 216 international crews currently remaining in the rally, the top IRDC entered cars are:
Ritson & Michael Thomas Lancia Fulvia 1600 HF 50th, Stephen & Tony Graham's Fulvia 1600 HF 51st and Gordon & David Glen's Opel Kadett GTE 57th. In 65th position is the Lancia Fulvia 1.3 S of Rick Pearson, co-driven by Silverstone MD Stuart Pringle.

6th February, 2024

Three IRDC crews in Monte Historique top 50!

Rallye Monte Carlo Historique 2024 is now entering its fifth day of competition and on Tuesday competitors head back to Monte Carlo while completing more stages en route. Then, following a few hours rest Its back into the mountains for the final night loop that includes the infamous Col de Turini, therefore plenty of rallying still to come.

German driver Michel Decremer continues to lead the rally in his Opel Ascona 400 but out of the 217 international crews currently remaining in the event there are three IRDC cars in the top 50:
Gordon & David Glen's Opel Kadett GTE in 47th, Ritson & Michael Thomas in a Lancia Fulvia 1600 HF 48th and Stephen & Tony Graham's Fulvia 1600 HF in 49th, all separated by just 40 penalty points! In 71st position is Rick Pearson, co-driven by Silverstone MD Stuart Pringle in a Lancia Fulvia 1.3 S.

5th February, 2024

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