Esapekka Lappi has been crowned the 2014 European Rally Champion after his sole remaining rival for the title was ruled out of the final round in Corsica by a testing accident.

Lappi headed into the final event on the French island needing just five points to clinch the crown, but his title was assured when Sepp Wiegand crashed his Skoda Fabia vRS during testing and it caught fire.

The German suffered an off that damaged the exhaust on his car, which proceeded to ignite the grass beneath it. With the car catching ablaze too, it couldn't be extinguished in time to save it and with no spare available to him, Wiegand has been forced to pull out of the finale and cede his title aspirations.

"I'm very disappointed. I'm really sorry that the slip-up had such drastic consequences - I'm also sorry for the whole team. I'd like to thank everyone who worked so hard to give us the chance to still be fighting for the title here."

By contrast, Lappi is thrilled to to be crowned champion, despite the unusual circumstances, and is keen to end his year on a high regardless in Corscica.

"I feel really bad for Sepp Wiegand and Frank Christian, we were looking forward to the thrilling ?KODA battle for the title with our fiercest rivals," said Lappi. "We now need to single-handedly try to round off this successful season for ?KODA on Corsica. After our third victory this season in Switzerland, naturally we are very confident heading to Corsica."



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