Lappi realistic on WRC return as 2022 drive looms

Esapekka Lappi is realistic about his expectations for his World Rally Championship return at Rally Finland courtesy of a one-off, that is effectively an evaluation for a 2022 Toyota seat.

Lappi realistic on WRC return as 2022 drive looms

Lappi is set for his first top flight WRC drive since losing his seat at M-Sport at the end of last season, having landed an outing in a fifth Yaris WRC run by the factory Toyota squad this weekend.

The 2017 Rally Finland winner has previously driven for the works Toyota operation in 2017 and 2018 before stints at Citroen and M-Sport, but has found himself on the sidelines this year.

Lappi has already been labelled by Toyota WRC boss Jari-Matti Latvala as the candidate in the strongest position to fill the seat in Toyota's third car, which will be shared with seven-time champion Sebastien Ogier, who is set for a partial campaign in 2022.

Speaking ahead of this weekend's event, the Finn says he plans to deliver a mature approach but is hopeful he will be fighting with the best come Saturday.

"I [will] try to be a bit more mature. I will try not to be stupid," said Lappi, who has been driving selected rounds in WRC2 machinery this year.

"I believe I need to be realistic as to what to expect. I believe we will lose a bit [on Friday] and I need to get used to the speed again on the fresh road and from the pacenotes.

"I mean it is easy to do a good speed on a test road but to move that speed into a proper stage is not that simple.

Esapekka Lappi, Janne Ferm, Movisport Volkswagen Polo GTi

Esapekka Lappi, Janne Ferm, Movisport Volkswagen Polo GTi

Photo by: McKlein / Motorsport Images

"I think Friday will go like that and then hopefully after a good night's sleep I will understand how to do it, and then on Saturday we will be on good form."

Toyota boss Latvala has moved to alleviate the pressure on Lappi by admitting that this weekend's result will play a role but won't ultimately make the decision regarding the vacant seat for next year.

"This is not making the decision," said Latvala.

"How he performs doesn't affect too much, if you go off on the first stage at the first corner then for sure you start to reconsider.

"I'm confident Esapekka has the experience and knows how to handle the situation.

"For me the most important thing is to see the speed is there in a WRC car because the WRC2 cars are two seconds slower than the WRC cars and that is important to be able to handle the speed.

"We just need the confirmation that he is comfortable in a WRC car."

Lappi kicked off his Rally Finland campaign by setting the seventh fastest time on Friday morning shakedown, which was claimed by Hyundai's Ott Tanak.

 

shares
comments

Related video

Archive: The first title of a Finnish WRC legend
Previous article

Archive: The first title of a Finnish WRC legend

Next article

Finland WRC: Tanak leads as Hyundai surprises Toyota on morning loop

Finland WRC: Tanak leads as Hyundai surprises Toyota on morning loop
Load comments
The WRC heirs scrapping to assume Ogier's throne in 2022 Prime

The WRC heirs scrapping to assume Ogier's throne in 2022

Eight-time World Rally Championship king Sebastien Ogier has abdicated (well, gone part-time) in 2022, meaning for just the second time in the past decade we will have a different champion this year. We pick out the drivers gunning to take his place and take over the mantle as the WRC's new ruler

WRC
Jan 20, 2022
The WRC star that's earned the right to lead M-Sport's revival Prime

The WRC star that's earned the right to lead M-Sport's revival

Part-time opportunities with Citroen and Hyundai have offered brief glimpses of what Craig Breen can do in a World Rally Championship car. Now signed up by M-Sport to lead it into the WRC's new hybrid era, Breen has been given the chance he's pursued for so long and is determined to make the most of it

WRC
Jan 18, 2022
Why the WRC's 'modern Group B' era was rallying at its bonkers best Prime

Why the WRC's 'modern Group B' era was rallying at its bonkers best

The World Rally Championship has brought down the curtain on the aggressive, aero-laden generation of cars first introduced in 2017 that have been likened to the 1980s Group B icons. As the championship prepares to begin a new era of Rally1 hybrid cars, its stars explain just why the outgoing machines were so special

WRC
Dec 24, 2021
Ranking the top 10 WRC drivers of 2021 Prime

Ranking the top 10 WRC drivers of 2021

On the eve of a new hybrid era for the World Rally Championship, the 2021 season was a blockbuster fought out between Toyota's two top dogs, with a familiar figure eventually emerging on top after a final showdown at Monza. We pick out the 10 best performers from the top class and its supporting cast

WRC
Dec 21, 2021
Why Ogier's WRC swansong was a season to savour Prime

Why Ogier's WRC swansong was a season to savour

He’s shuffling into semi-rally-retirement, but Toyota star Sebastien Ogier was at the peak of his powers in the final season for the high downforce era-World Rally Championship cars. Despite Toyota's domination, there was still much to enjoy as the old master emerged atop a fierce title fight against teammate Elfyn Evans.

WRC
Dec 19, 2021
How WRC legend Ogier will be remembered by his peers Prime

How WRC legend Ogier will be remembered by his peers

After winning his eighth WRC title, Sebastien Ogier has drawn the curtain on his full-time rallying career. To understand Ogier's legacy, many of his former rivals, team-mates and colleagues have shared their thoughts on a vastly successful career

WRC
Nov 26, 2021
Ranking lost WRC legend Richard Burns' 10 best rallies Prime

Ranking lost WRC legend Richard Burns' 10 best rallies

Richard Burns was a determined driver who took on the best rally drivers in the world during a boom period in the early 2000s, and beat them. On the 20th anniversary of his crowning glory in winning the 2001 WRC title, and 16 years on from his death on the same date, we pick out his 10 greatest drives

WRC
Nov 25, 2021
The internal focus that made Burns a legendary world rally champion Prime

The internal focus that made Burns a legendary world rally champion

At the turn of the millennium, WRC was full to the brim with rallying's great and good - and 20 years ago on this day, Richard Burns became England's first world rally champion. Although Burns' natural talent drove him to the top, his steely determination and mental strength was the key attribute behind his title-winning form

WRC
Nov 25, 2021