'Shocked' Lappi targets M-Sport seat after Citroen WRC withdrawal

Esapekka Lappi says he was 'shocked' at Citroen's World Rally Championship withdrawal, and that M-Sport is his only hope for a seat in 2020

'Shocked' Lappi targets M-Sport seat after Citroen WRC withdrawal

Lappi left Toyota to join Citroen alongside Sebastien Ogier for the 2019 season, but has struggled to master the squad's C3 and took 10th in the championship with equal best finishes of second on his native Rally Finland and on Rally Turkey.

M-Sport's Elfyn Evans is expected to be announced alongside Ogier and Kalle Rovanpera at Toyota next Monday.

The 28-year-old says he intends to fight for one of the remaining M-Sport seats next season, but that there will be a lot of interest in the team which won the '17 and '18 titles with Ogier.

"I read the rumours [about Citroen pulling out]," said Lappi.

"But I was expecting it to be more related to Seb, to be honest.

"I tried to get some info from Pierre [Budar, Citroen WRC team boss] earlier, but he didn't really give me anything.

"I thought something was weird. It was quite a shock.

"M-Sport is the only chance available.

"It's a tough call. If there's a seat available, there is quite many drivers trying to reach that.

"If you just look at the season which ended I'm not the strongest guy to get it in terms of results and overall results, but anyway we will fight and will fight hard."

Having tested Citroen's 2020 C3 WRC, Lappi is confident the car and the team was moving in the right direction. The C3 had been seen testing with a radical new aero kit among other updates during the second half of 2019.

"I think we could have done quite big steps," he said.

"Obviously you saw the aero update which was working very well - for sure it would have helped a lot on the fast stages and fast rallies.

"The change and the difference in time was quite big from the old aero.

"And then we had some performance-related updates: new engine, new geometry with some steering updates and some other things for the diffs.

"We were working on it for sure.

"Like we saw when I got the diffs I wanted [this season] it all clicked on gravel.

"There was a lot of work on Tarmac to be done, but I was positive we had a big improvement for next year.

"Maybe they wouldn't have answered all the challenges we face this year, but at least some of them."

shares
comments
How Ogier's Citroen dream died

Previous article

How Ogier's Citroen dream died

Next article

Toyota reveals Ogier, Evans, Rovanpera in three-car '20 WRC line-up

Toyota reveals Ogier, Evans, Rovanpera in three-car '20 WRC line-up
Load comments
How Hyundai's broken record gave Toyota a special Sardinia 1-2 Plus

How Hyundai's broken record gave Toyota a special Sardinia 1-2

For the second WRC gravel rally in a row, a promising Friday for Hyundai turned into desolation as Toyota gratefully picked up the pieces. This time it was championship leader Sebastien Ogier who took full advantage after Ott Tanak and Dani Sordo retired to score a memorable victory, having swept the road on the first two days

WRC
Jun 7, 2021
How Hyundai's latest self-destruction handed Evans Portugal victory Plus

How Hyundai's latest self-destruction handed Evans Portugal victory

At one point Hyundai held the top three positions in Portugal, but when trouble struck the Korean marque's two leading chargers, a grateful Elfyn Evans was on hand to see off Hyundai third man Dani Sordo and become the third different winner in four rallies

WRC
May 24, 2021
Why the success of AVB's WRC debut won't be defined on the stages Plus

Why the success of AVB's WRC debut won't be defined on the stages

Three years after a Dakar Rally crash resulted in him being airlifted to hospital, Andre Villas-Boas is preparing to make his debut on his home round of the World Rally Championship later this month. His goals for the event are modest, but the same cannot be said for the charities he plans to promote where his true impact could be felt

WRC
May 13, 2021
Why there's no easy fix for Hyundai's operational Achilles Heel Plus

Why there's no easy fix for Hyundai's operational Achilles Heel

Hyundai Motorsport boss Andrea Adamo was vocal in his criticism of his team's tyre choices on Rally Croatia and declared that he "had better move my ass and solve it". Doing so will be vital to getting Hyundai's 2021 WRC title hopes back on track, but finding the root of the problem won't be the work of a moment

WRC
Apr 28, 2021
How Ogier held on after a shock bump in the road to triumph in Croatia Plus

How Ogier held on after a shock bump in the road to triumph in Croatia

Sebastien Ogier was already in an incredibly tight fight at Rally Croatia before a surprise collision with public road traffic at the start of the final day. But the defending champion held his nerve to take a narrow victory and create further World Rally Championship history

WRC
Apr 26, 2021
Why the casualty of rallying's evolution should still be cherished Plus

Why the casualty of rallying's evolution should still be cherished

The WRC's support categories are in a process of streamlining that will spell the end of a formalised 2WD world championship-level category. While its relevance to the top level has been questioned for some time, that doesn't mean it should be swept quietly under the carpet

WRC
Apr 5, 2021
Why WRC's hybrid path could leave it at a crossroads Plus

Why WRC's hybrid path could leave it at a crossroads

With all three major manufacturers committing to the World Rally Championship’s hybrid era from 2022, the future of the series is assured for now, but it could lead to trickier twists and turns further down the road

WRC
Apr 1, 2021
How Tanak froze out the competition at the Arctic Rally Plus

How Tanak froze out the competition at the Arctic Rally

Ott Tanak made up for a disastrous Monte Carlo Rally by leading all the way on the snow-kissed stages of the Arctic Rally Finland and in the process hit back at an event Toyota had been expected to dominate

WRC
Mar 1, 2021