FIA World Rally Championship

2023 Rallye Monte-Carlo: Esapekka Lappi – “I am confident we can have good pace”

2 Mins read
Credit: Toyota Gazoo Racing WRT

The Flying Finn Esapekka Lappi has moved team for the 2023 FIA World Rally Championship season as he is now set to debut for the South Korean manufacturer and the Hyundai Shell Mobis WRT in Rallye Monte-Carlo next weekend.

Lappi is the only driver on the start grid for the season-opener which has driven for four different manufacturers throughout the last five seasons. He joined Toyota Gazoo Racing WRT for the 2017 season where he also claimed his first and only win so far at his home rally of Rally Finland.

After the 2018 season, Lappi joined Citroen Racing for one season and had quite an ok season-ending 10th overall. After that, he joined M-Sport Ford WRT for the 2020 season in an all-Finnish line-up with Teemu Suninen in the second Ford Fiesta WRC. Lappi managed to take his best Rallye Monte-Carlo to finish that season with a fourth-place finish but he was later dropped out from the line-up after one year.

In the 2021 season, he went back to the WRC2 class, in which he also previously won a title in 2016 with Skoda Motorsport. He won the two rallies he entered under the Movisport banner in Arctic Rally Finland and Rally de Portugal. For the 2022 season, he moved back to Toyota for a part-time program in the third Toyota GR Yaris Rally1 where he shared the seat with eight-time champion Sébastien Ogier and secured three podium finishes.

Credit: Hyundai Motorsport GmbH

Now he is back full-time in the WRC as he replaces Ott Tänak in the Hyundai team, as the Estonian has signed with M-Sport for this season.

“Rallye Monte-Carlo changed location last year; it moved closer to Monaco and there was a bit less snow and ice than before. I don’t know whether that will be the case this year as well, but if it is, then it will certainly make things simpler for us, as we also have to learn a whole new car.” Lappi said.

“Thursday night is always quite tense – I have to say it is not the nicest feeling climbing up the hill in the darkness on slick tyres in potentially icy conditions! There is excitement, but there is also a small bit of fear. However, it’s quite special, and the following morning you feel more at ease – at least in your mindset.”

“I’m excited to start this adventure with a new team; I will only have one test day on tarmac, but I will go there with my mind open and not give up before we’ve even started. I am confident we can have good pace – maybe not from the very first stage, but certainly we will develop a lot during the weekend and hopefully finish well.”

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