Esapekka Lappi will return to the World Rally Championship in the WRC2 class on this month’s Arctic Rally Finland after departing M-Sport at the end of 2020.
The Finn won the WRC2 title in 2016, earning him a graduation to World Rally Car machinery with Toyota Gazoo Racing and winning Rally Finland on just his fourth rally in the top class. He claimed six further podiums with Toyota and then Citroën before switching to M-Sport last year.
While still working his way up the ranks, Lappi entered the national version of the Arctic Rally three times, and won the 2012 edition in a Ford Fiesta S2000.
“Arctic rally in 2010 was the first one as a pair for me and Janne [Ferm, long-time co-driver],” Lappi said.
“Great memories, aside from results. But we won the rally in 2012. Let’s see if we can repeat this year in WRC2. Snow banks, the real winter routes and loads of fun – let’s gooo!”
Finnish press suggests he’ll be making his return to the world championship stages in a Volkswagen Polo GTI R5 run by the Movisport team that is also fielding Nikolay Gryazin in WRC2 this year.
Volkswagen cars now run without factory support following the closure of Volkswagen Motorsport, but it was still a popular car on the season-opening Monte Carlo Rally and it is expected there will be several Polos contesting the first WRC-scoring edition of the Arctic Rally on February 26-28.
Lappi won’t be the only WRC winner competing in WRC2, with Toksport’s Andreas Mikkelsen looking to follow up his Monte success with another dominant win in his Škoda Fabia Rally2 evo.
Oliver Solberg finished third in last month’s Arctic Lapland Rally, the national version of the WRC rally and run with snow stages heading in the opposite direction, but will not be a contender for Rally2 honors this time as Hyundai Motorsport has promoted him to a World Rally Car seat with 2C Competition for the very first time.