Lappi said: “Obviously, I’m delighted to be joining the team and to be the future teammate of Sebastien. It’s a good opportunity for me to keep developing.
“After having learned many things from [Toyota teammates] Jari-Matti Latvala last year, and from Ott Tanak this year, I’ll have everything it takes to be even better if I also manage to draw inspiration from Seb!”
Lappi admitted Citroen team principal Pierre Budar’s enthusiasm to bring him to Versailles was one of the reasons he will depart the Toyota Gazoo Racing outfit.
“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.”
Budar said the Lappi signing furthered Citroen’s policy of bringing young drivers forward and, despite his Rally Finland win last year, he’s sure the world still hasn’t seen the best of the Finn.
Budar said: “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 “Sebastien.
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.”
Citroen is thought likely to contest most WRC rounds with just two C3 WRCs next season, with a third car potentially run for Sebastien Loeb or Khalid Al Qassimi.
What Lappi’s arrival means for the future of Citroen’s current drivers Craig Breen and Mads Ostberg remains to be seen, but there’s increasing speculation that the Irishman will take a full time programme at M-Sport next season.
2019 WRC line-up so far:
|Hyundai|| Thierry Neuville
Esapekka Lappi, Janne Ferm, Toyota Gazoo Racing WRT Toyota Yaris WRC
Photo by: Toyota Racing