Citroën Total Abu Dhabi WRT have announced that Esapekka Lappi will move from Toyota Gazoo Racing to join Sébastien Ogier for the 2019 FIA World Rally Championship season.
The Finn, who has shown impressive pace on several occasions in 2018 and currently sits in fourth in the Drivers Championship, will move to the French manufacturer alongside Ogier with both drivers expected to fight for every win on the 2019 calendar.
Lappi said on his move to Citroen: “Obviously, I’m delighted to be joining the team and to be the future team-mate of Sébastien (Ogier).It’s a good opportunity for me to keep developing. After having learned many things from Jari-Matti Latvala last year, and from Ott Tänak this year, I’ll have everything it takes to be even better if I also manage to draw inspiration from Seb!”
“I’m convinced that the car has a lot of potential, as does the team, which has a long history and lot of experience in the WRC. The fact that Pierre (Budar) clearly wanted to recruit me also counted a lot when it came to making my decision. It’s also going to be a great challenge, trying to win together.”
While Team Principal Pierre Budar added: “We were keen to sign up two very competitive crews for next year and the arrival of Esapekka is therefore excellent news! Putting faith in young drivers has long been hard-wired in the DNA of our brand and Esapekka certainly has the ideal profile. Talented, determined and focused, he should form both a complementary – and formidable – pair with Sébastien”
“We feel there is still more to come from him, so we’ll be doing what we can to get him in the best possible shape to help him continue his impressive rise through the ranks.”
Lappi moves from the Toyota team where his drive has been taken by Kris Meeke, while Ogier moves from M-Sport where he won the 2017 title and is currently in a close battle with Thierry Neuville and Ott Tänak in his pursuit of a sixth successive World Drivers Championship.