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WRC Rally Kenya

WRC Safari Rally: Lappi retirement leaves Toyota in control

Esapekka Lappi has retired from Safari Rally Kenya to dent Hyundai’s hopes of a podium finish at the toughest event of the World Rally Championship season.

Esapekka Lappi, Janne Ferm, Hyundai World Rally Team Hyundai i20 N Rally1

The Finn inherited third on Saturday morning after making the most of a stall for Toyota’s Elfyn Evans on stage eight, but Lappi’s rally came to a premature end on stage 11.

Lappi pulled off the road at the 22km mark of the 29.32km Soysambu test with what appeared to be a terminal technical issue.

Hyundai is yet confirm the reason for the retirement, but the nature of his exit would appear that Lappi’s i20 N had sustained a suspected prop shaft/transmission issue.

The one-time WRC rally winner previously suffered a prop shaft failure during Wednesday’s shakedown.

Lappi had impressed on his event debut up until this point, winning Friday’s stage three and was firmly in the fight for a podium despite losing 30s to a delaminated right0rear tyre on stage four.

Lappi’s exit has handed Toyota a 1-2-3-4 with Evans now climbing to third, 2.8s ahead of the fourth GR Yaris driven by Takamoto Katsuta.

Rally leader Sebastien Ogier won stage 11 by a margin of 6.4s over nearest rival Kalle Rovanpera to extend his overall lead out to 28.5s.

Ogier did however reach the stage end with some foliage protruding from his car.

"There is a lot of branches in there and this one got stuck in there, no big drama," said Ogier.

Sébastien Ogier, Vincent Landais, Toyota Gazoo Racing WRT Toyota GR Yaris Rally1

Sébastien Ogier, Vincent Landais, Toyota Gazoo Racing WRT Toyota GR Yaris Rally1

Photo by: Tomek Kaliński

Rovanpera admitted that he wasn’t pushing in the stage, with his main focus on bringing the car to the end of the day given his title rivals Ott Tanak and Thierry Neuville are sitting sixth and 14th respectively.

"I am not really pushing too much," said Rovanpera. "I am driving my own pace with quite a level speed in my opinion.

"I am not pushing a lot, let's see what happens. I am just doing my own thing and trying to bring the car to the end of the day."

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