WATCH: Hyundai’s Esapekka Lappi blasts to long-awaited WRC victory in Sweden

Picture: Jaanus Ree / Red Bull Content Pool.

Picture: Jaanus Ree / Red Bull Content Pool.

Published Feb 19, 2024


Esapekka Lappi nursed his overnight lead to win the Swedish Rally on Sunday and take his first victory in six-and-a-half years.

Welshman Elfyn Evans was second, 34 seconds behind, in a Toyota. Frenchman Adrien Fourmaux finished another 14.1sec behind in a Ford to gain his first podium finish in the elite WR1 category, as all three manufacturers made the podium.

Belgian Thierry Neuville, winner of the season-opening Monte Carlo Rally at the end of January, took fourth in a Hyundai.

Lappi is only a part-time driver this season and did not race in Monte Carlo.

He grabbed the lead late on Friday as leading rivals suffered mechanical problems, crashed or struggled to find grip on the snow.

The 33-year-old, whose only previous victory came early in his career in 2017, drove conservatively on Sunday's three stages.

Picture: Jaanus Ree / Red Bull Content Pool.

"I feel good really good," said Lappi at the finish. "I have been hunting for this second victory for a very long while."

"I had a very bad second half last year," he said. "It's quite a massive contrast."

Reigning champion Kalle Rovanpera, who was out of overall competition after crashing on Friday, won the opening stage and Evans took the second.

Rovanpera clinched the closing power stage by less than a hundredth of a second after Evans clipped a snowbank on the final corner.

"I lost it all on the last corner," said Evans. "Not so good. Overall I guess we'd be relatively happy with this result. But there are still areas to work on."

Fourmaux's first top-three finish gave Ford, who finished a distant third last year, a first podium of the season.

"Been two really hard years," the Frenchman said. "To be on the podium is really special."

Agence France-Presse

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