Esapekka Lappi’s Rally Mexico ended in flames on Saturday after his M-Sport Ford Fiesta burst into flames.
Lappi and co-driver Janne Ferm both escaped unharmed, but the car is beyond repair and sees the Finnish driver retire from the event.
The fire began at the end of the El Chocolate 2 stage where flames were visible at the rear of the car. Marshals attempted to extinguish them without success, forcing Lappi to accelerate away in the hope speed would solve the issue. It didn’t.
The flames increased in size, forcing Lappi to stop. He admitted they were larger than he first thought: “I didn’t realise how big the fire was, so I tried to still drive, but [the fire] didn’t shut down.”
The fire forced the cancellation of the following stage as emergency services attended to the scene.
M-Sport team principal, Richard Millener, said: “It’s hard to tell exactly what happened, but it looks as though some hot oil may have leaked onto the exhaust. Everyone tried their best to put out the flames, but once these cars go up it’s almost impossible to stop – so full credit to Esapekka and Janne for getting it to a safe place.
“It’s no secret that this loss will really have a big impact on M-Sport – and we don’t know when the championship will resume which makes the situation really difficult right now. But despite all of this and all of the repercussions, the most important thing is that everyone is safe and unharmed.”