Esapekka Lappi has ended the first full day of World Rally Championship action for the Rally Finland in a remarkable lead after catching and overhauling his vastly more experienced team-mate Jari-Matti Latvala with a series of stunning stage performances.

Competing in only his fourth WRC event, Lappi - who has already secured one top five finish this year - came into the afternoon loop of stages poised to surpass Latvala after four stage wins in the morning brought him to within striking distance of his fellow Toyota driver.

Four more stage wins over the course of the afternoon - including the fearsome Lankamaa stage - would subsequently see him take charge, though the close margins at the top means he remains only 4.4secs to the good of Latvala by the end of a nonetheless spectacular day for the 26 year-old.

Beyond the Toyota 1-2, Teemu Suninen flew the flag for M-Sport on a tough day for the Ford team, rising to third place to make it an all-Finnish top three, 19secs behind, while Craig Breen lifted himself back to fourth at the expense of Juho Hanninen on the final stage of the day as the best placed Citroen driver and the only non-Scandinavian inside the top six.

Mads Ostberg slipped from third to sixth as the day wore on, with DMACK's Elfyn Evans poised to overtake just 0.1secs behind in Finland after a strong afternoon effort.

Indeed, despite the packed schedule of 12 stages there remains only a minute between the top eight, completed by Thierry Neuville who showed willing with a win on the final stage of the day. The Belgian stands to make good gains in the championship reckoning after his main rival Sebastien Ogier crashed out early on, the Frenchman set to see his 11 point advantage whittle down.

Kris Meeke slipped back to ninth after bending a steering arm, while Ott Tanak worked on making back ground from an early delay.



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