Finn Esapekka Lappi has signed with M-Sport Ford where he will be the lead driver for the next season of the World Rally Championship. At his new team, he will take the vacant Ford Fiesta seat left by Welshman Elfyn Evans, who has, in turn, made the move to Toyota WRT.
His signing means that the tenth classified of the WRC 2019 has gone from having no team to becoming the leading man at one of the main squads on the grid.
After the disappearance of the French team, for which Lappi had raced last season, it was very difficult for him to find a vacancy. About to turn 29, he was presented with a very complicated future in the speciality. However, the outlook has now completely changed for the driver from Pieksämäki.
The Scandinavian driver has expressed his excitement for the new deal through social networks:
“I am extremely happy to announce I will be joining M-Sport Ford. I’m really looking forward to this new adventure and I’m excited to see what we can achieve”.
“M‑Sport Ford has a real passion for rally and there were a lot of talented drivers available for this seat, so I’m very happy they put their trust in us – giving myself and Janne an opportunity to show what we can do in 2020.” – Lappi has said about his signing.
Esapekka Lappi had to defeat Andreas Mikkelsen, Craig Breen and Hayden Paddon, who were also hoping to get the coveted seat at the British team. All of them had in fact been in conversations with M-Sport regarding the possibility of a contract.
Finally, Esapekka Lappi has announced they will be starting their training this weekend in order to familiarise themselves with the new car:
“We start testing this week, and I’m really looking forward to discovering the Fiesta. The last time I drove a Ford we had a lot of success and it would be great to see that continue this year. I can’t wait to get started and hopefully we can push for some strong results.” -he concluded-.
The second blue car will be driven by the also Finn couple Teemu Suninen and Jarmo Lehtinen. Also, Gus Greesmith and Elliot Edmonson will take part in nine (Montecarlo, Mexico, Argentina, Portugal, Italy, Finland, Turkey, Germany and Great Britain) of the thirteenth appointments of the WRC 2020 calendar onboard the third car of the English squad.
Since he started competing at the WRC in 2017, Esapekka Lappi has taken part in 55 races. His list of triumphs, however, is made up of just one victory at Rally Finland in 2017 and seven podiums. He has also won 41 stages and earned 291 points over his career, which up until now seemed to have hit a dead-end.
M-Sport boss thrilled with the signing
The brains behind the operation, M-Sport director-general Malcolm Wilson, is delighted with the hiring of Esapekka Lappi as he remembers there were other two Finns, Marcus Grönholm and Mikko Hirvonen, that conquered the two latest Constructor’s titles for the team in 2006 and 2007. Wilson is therefore particularly keen on hiring Scandinavian racers.
“We’re going back to our roots in more ways than one this year – fielding a young team and welcoming two sets of Finns back to the family. We enjoyed some fantastic results with Marcus (Grönholm), Mikko (Hirvonen) and Jari-Matti (Latvala), and now I’m looking forward to seeing how the next generation of Flying Finns develop”.
“Our core philosophy has always been the promotion and progression of young talent, and in Esapekka, Teemu and Gus we have three talented youngsters who are all capable of delivering some strong results. The team might be young but it has experience and ambition.” – Concluded Wilson -.
Images of ‘Esapekka Lappi’: M-Sport Ford.