M-Sport Ford World Rally Team’s Esapekka Lappi and Janne Ferm claimed fourth place at this weekend’s Rallye Monte-Carlo – securing their best Monte result on their FIA World Rally Championship debut with EcoBoost-powered Ford Fiesta WRC.
Recovering from a difficult start, the Finns bounced back – learning with every kilometre and gaining confidence to head into the final day of competition in a battle for fourth place with nine-time World Champion Sébastien Loeb.
Putting the seven-time Monte winner under pressure, Lappi came out on top – securing the position as well as an additional point for the fifth fastest time through the Power Stage.
In the sister M-Sport Ford Fiesta WRC, Teemu Suninen and Jarmo Lehtinen recovered eighth place overall. The young Finn was quick when the conditions were more consistent, and he proved that again today.
Focused on showing his pace through the Power Stage, Suninen split the top-three and was the fastest man through the second half of the stage – securing an additional three championship points for the third fastest time.
Team Principal, Richard Millener, said:
“We’re coming away from this one with a really strong result – especially when you consider where we were on Thursday night. It was great to see Esapekka gaining confidence and coming out on top in the battle with Loeb. Fourth was the best we could have done this weekend, and he focused on himself to get the job done.
“It was also pretty satisfying to see Teemu split the top-three on the Power Stage. You could see from the splits that he had the pace when the conditions were more consistent, and he proved that again this afternoon. It’s been a solid start, and I think the team can be really proud of the way they picked themselves up after the initial disappointment at the beginning of the weekend.”
Esapekka Lappi (4th) said:
“This is my best result from Monte and I think the best we could have done this weekend, so I am really happy with that. I managed to concentrate only on myself and what we were doing, and that seemed to work pretty well. It was a very challenging event and not always so easy, but we improved stage by stage and learnt a lot over the course of the weekend – so I’d say it’s been a positive start to the season.”
Teemu Suninen (8th) said:
“When the conditions were dry or wet I was really pleased with my pace on those sections, and we showed that again on the Power Stage today – setting the third fastest time and two fastest splits. But on the icy sections we were losing a lot and I have some work to do to be more consistent there. It’s good that I can set strong times on an event like this, but I need more experience to do it all the time.”