WRC stars making the leap at Fafe
FOR many, the highlight of this weekend’s Vodafone Rally de Portugal is the final leg stomach-churning leap over the massive Fafe jump – one of the WRC’s iconic locations.
Huge crowds will throng the roadside to watch the championship’s high-fliers soar skywards through a double pass of the 11.18km speed test – and this year’s encounter should bring together the two principal pilots of the WRC’s big-air exponents.
On one side is Toyota Gazoo Racing’s award-winning Esapekka Lappi. WRC TV’s coverage of Lappi’s leap in Fafe last year was named the best action moment of the motorsport season at the FIA’s prize-giving ceremony.
The look on Lappi’s face and the relieved laughter from codriver Janne Ferm said it all after their Toyota Yaris’ 33metre, 120km/h jump, which Lappi landed on one wheel.
Opposing him is Mads Østberg, who flew his Citroën C3 to a second consecutive Colin’s Crest Award at February’s Rally Sweden.
Mad Mads’ 42-metre jump over the crest close to the end of the Vargåsen stage matched his 2017 distance to retain the award, presented in honour of 1995 world champion Colin McRae to the driver who flies furthest.
Lappi views the rally as the start of a new chapter in his career.
“Portugal is where I started to compete in a World Rally Car last year so I think everything should be a little bit easier from this point onwards,” Lappi said. “In the first part of the season there were ups and downs, but I was pretty surprised with how good the speed was in some events. There were many positives and we just need to try to learn from the negative moments.”
Current WRC leader Sebastien Ogier makes the famous jump at Fafe in Portugal last year.