Citroen WRC exile Lappi joins M-Sport alongside Suninen and Greensmith

David Evans
Autosport
Citroen WRC exile Lappi joins M-Sport for 2020
Citroen WRC exile Lappi joins M-Sport for 2020

After Citroen's World Rally Championship exit left him without a seat, Esapekka Lappi has joined the M-Sport Ford World Rally Team for 2020 alongside Teemu Suninen and Gus Greensmith.

Finnish drivers Lappi and Suninen will tackle all 13 rounds of this year's WRC, while Greensmith gets nine rounds aboard a Ford Fiesta WRC.

The team's first public appearance together comes at next week's Autosport International, where the crews will be joined by M-Sport managing director Malcolm Wilson and team principal Richard Millener to lay out M-Sport's plans for the season ahead.

Lappi won his first rally title - the 2012 Finnish Rally Championship - in a Fiesta S2000 built by the M-Sport squad.

He spearheaded Skoda's new R5 programme culminating in winning the WRC 2 title in 2016, before he stepped up to Toyota where he won his home rally - Rally Finland - in 2017.

He moved to Citroen alongside Sebastien Ogier for 2019 and scored three podiums on his way to 10th in the championship.

Ogier has joined Toyota for 2020, alongside ex-M-Sport driver Elfyn Evans who Lappi now replaces, securing the last factory seat in the WRC.

Citroen WRC exile Lappi joins M-Sport for 2020
Citroen WRC exile Lappi joins M-Sport for 2020

"I'm really looking forward to this new adventure and I'm excited to see what we can achieve," said Lappi.

"M-Sport Ford has a real passion for rally and there were a lot of talented drivers available for this seat, so I'm very happy they put their trust in us - giving myself and Janne an opportunity to show what we can do in 2020.

"We start testing this week, and I'm really looking forward to discovering the Fiesta.

"The last time I drove a Ford we had a lot of success and it would be great to see that continue this year.

"I can't wait to get started, and hope we can push for some strong results."

The combination of Lappi and Suninen returns M-Sport to an all-Finnish frontline.

Wilson said: "We're going back to our roots in more ways than one this year - fielding a young team and welcoming Finns back to the family.

"We enjoyed some fantastic results with Marcus [Gronholm], Mikko [Hirvonen] and Jari-Matti [Latvala] and now I'm looking forward to seeing how the next generation of Flying Finns develop.

"But our core philosophy has always been the promotion and progression of young talent, and in Esapekka, Teemu and Gus we have three talented youngsters who are all capable of delivering some strong results."

Two-time podium finisher Suninen will start his second full season in a factory Fiesta.

"It's really great to be in a team with Esapekka because he was something of a hero to me in my childhood," said Suninen.

"When I started go-karting as a teenager in Finland, he was in the same team and winning the championship. Three years later I was able to do the same, and now we're both in rally and both back in the same team!"

Greensmith, will start his programme with Monte Carlo later this month, before tackling Mexico, Argentina, Portugal, Sardinia, Finland, Turkey, Germany and Wales.

He said: "I owe a lot to everyone at M-Sport and Ford who has helped me progress as a driver, but there is a lot more to come."

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