Lappi joins Breen and Lefebvre by landing factory WRC drive

Lappi joins Breen and Lefebvre by landing factory WRC drive

19.12.2016: Esapekka Lappi, the winner of the FIA European Rally Championship in 2014, has joined fellow ERC graduates Craig Breen and Stéphane

Esapekka Lappi, the winner of the FIA European Rally Championship in 2014, has joined fellow ERC graduates Craig Breen and Stéphane Lefebvre by landing a factory drive in the World Rally Championship for 2017.

Lappi, pictured second from the right, was unveiled as the third member of TOYOTA GAZOO Racing’s WRC assault alongside Jari-Matti Latvala and Juho Hänninen, the 2012 ERC champion, during the team’s launch in Helsinki, Finland, earlier today.



“This is a tremendous opportunity for me and my co-driver Janne Ferm,” said Lappi, who drove a ŠKODA Fabia S2000 to the ERC title in 2014.



“It’s a dream come true. We have both worked so hard over the years to get to this point and finally, it’s here. We’re excited and motivated about joining the team, and we’re extremely grateful for this opportunity. I can’t wait to start our testing programme together with TOYOTA GAZOO Racing and the Yaris WRC.”



After winning on his ERC debut in Poland in 2012, Lappi bagged a second victory on the season finale in Switzerland the following year before ŠKODA handed him an ERC title challenge for 2014.



He didn’t disappoint, taking the prestigious championship crown on the back of wins in Latvia, Northern Ireland and Switzerland. Two seasons of WRC2 action followed and he was crowned FIA WRC2 champion on Rally Australia last month.



Jean-Baptiste Ley, the ERC Co-ordinator, said: “Congratulations to our 2014 ERC champion Esapekka Lappi on securing a factory drive in the world championship alongside fellow ERC graduates Craig Breen and Stéphane Lefebvre.



We saw his potential when he made a handful of appearances in the ERC in 2012 and 2013, while his ERC title triumph the following year was down to his speed, professionalism and ability to adapt to different surfaces.



The experience he gained in the ERC, not to mention the serious competition he faced, served him extremely well and ultimately played a part in his progression to the top of the rallying pyramid and to his securing this dream opportunity with Toyota Gazoo Racing.



We wish him all the success and we look forward to following the progress of those drivers aiming to follow in his wheel tracks by competing in next season’s ERC.”



The 2017 ERC season begins with the Azores Airlines Rallye from 30 March-1 April. Breen and Lefebvre, meanwhile, will drive for Citroën in next year’s WRC.

 

 

 

- Richard Rodgers, photo FIA ERC

Permanent-URL: http://www.automobilsport.com/lappi-breen-lefebvre-factory-wrc-drive---159062.html

19.12.2016 / MaP

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