FIA European Rally Championship leader Esapekka Lappi reckons next week's Acropolis Rally of Greece, which he's contesting for the first time, will be a 'big challenge'.
The Skoda Motorsport driver heads fellow rising star Vasily Gryazin by two points in the ERC title race following his standout victory on last month's Rally Liepaja.
“It's been a long break after Latvia and a rally after a long break is always nice,” said Lappi. “But it's going to be a big challenge because it's a new rally again, you have tarmac on one day and gravel the next and it's the first time I've done that. It's also going to be very interesting to see the Peugeot 208 T16s competing.”
Lappi is among a host of drivers tackling Greece's round of the ERC from 28-30 March. As well as Gryazin and Peugeot 208 T16 drivers Kevin Abbring and Craig Breen, Lappi will face opposition from several star names including Bryan Bouffier, Kajetan Kajetanowicz, Sepp Wiegand and Bruno Magalhaes.
Magalhaes will compete in a Peugeot 207 S2000 and is looking forward to doing an international event again: “It's amazing because in the last two years I only made six rallies and only in Portugal. My dream is to continue my international career and fortunately for this year I have six events in the ERC. It's my favourite championship and I believe in it because it's very competitive and everybody always goes completely flat out. I really want to prove my pace,” he remarked.
“It will be my first time in Greece and it will be amazing,” he continued. “It's easier to convince the sponsors to do this event because everybody knows it - it's very mythical and will be for sure a good challenge for everybody.
“I want to recover some rhythm because my second rally will be SATA Rallye Acores [in my native Portugal] so it's very important for me to make one rally before Acores when I will drive the 208 T16. The entry list [for Greece] is not so long but you have a lot of good drivers with a lot of good cars as well so a podium will be very difficult to achieve,” he concluded.