LAPPI JOINS CITROEN IN 2019
Esapekka Lappi joins Citroën Racing from the 2019 WRC season onwards. The Finn will be driving alongside 5-time WRC champion Sébastien Ogier at the French team.
Citroën Racing will be Lappi’s second official WRC team. The 27-year-old joined Toyota Gazoo Racing in 2017 after a successful campaign with Skoda Motorsport. The Finn won the 2014 ERC championship and the 2016 WRC2 championship with Skoda. Up to now, Lappi has scored one WRC win, during Rally Finland last year.
Citroën Racing looks to increase its bid for the WRC Manufacturers title next year with a new driver line-up. Citroën is currently fourth in the Manufacturers’ championship, 86 points behind its nearest rival M-Sport Ford. Lappi is the second new name at Citroën for next year as 5-time WRC champion also joins the French team.
There has been no news yet about Citroën’s third driver for 2019. There is a possibility that Citroën won’t be competing the full championship with three cars next year, just like this year. Current Citroën drivers, Craig Breen and Mads Østberg are out of contract at the end of next year. Breen said earlier this year that he has a drive for next year, but didn’t say with which team.
Toyota confirmed Kris Meeke as their third driver next year, the 39-year-old goes effectively ‘the other way around’ compared to Lappi. Toyota also confirmed that Jari-Matti Latvala stays at their team for 2019.
"Obviously, I'm delighted to be joining the team and to be the future team-mate of Sébastien. 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 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."
Pierre Budar, Citroën Racing Team Principal:
"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."
Read about Meeke´s Toyota-deal here!
Photo: Red Bull Content Pool