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23.1.2013

Esapekka Lappi moving to international rally

Sponsored by Ponsse, rally driverEsapekka Lappiis a fast young driver. He is also an example of what systematic training and great organisation can achieve.

Lappi is quickly becoming a member of the world rally elite. During the 2011 season, Lappi drove a two-wheel-drive SM2-series Citroen, but this season he switched to a four-wheel-drive S2000 Fiesta. The result was the title of Finnish Champion – for the second time in a row.

Lappi has had an impressive year: he won all the Finnish Championships events in which he participated and clocked the fastest time on 26 of the 40 stages. In the autumn, he got to drive a Skoda Super2000 car, which was previously driven by Henning Sohlberg. The vehicle is part of the Norwegian EVEN Rally’s stock.

Lappi was grateful for the honour and immediately started to succeed in the international arena. Lappi and his co-driverJanne Fermwon the European Championships event in Poland in late September. They were the fastest over 10 of the 13 stages.

A week after that, Lappi and Ferm went on to win the final event of the Swedish Championships, competing against full-blooded WRC cars driven by experienced men. Lappi was able to turn the race to his favour during the stages after the last service stop. He was almost a full minute faster than the next-fastest driver.

Esapekka Lappi admits that rally is a sport that requires money.

“I’m very pleased with the fact that we’re cooperating with Ponsse. I believe that we will be able to offer Ponsse the visibility they want, and now also in the international arena,” Lappi says.

The 21-year-old driver also admits to the fact that the costs of rally increase when transferring from 2WD to 4WD.  “The budget for the competition season doubles when you make the switch to 4WD,” Lappi says. Good cars are expensive, but so is maintaining a team. You have to pay for service vehicles, accommodation, catering, etc. This is why partners are very important for all rally drivers.

Lappi has learned fast. His first rally took place in a village close to Vieremä, Sonkajärvi, in 2009. Two years before that he was still competing on the karting track. Lappi says that some of his skills have come from the AKK Driver Academy. He has been a member of the Finnish association’s top training team since these karting years.
“Experts are able to teach you things about driving you have not even thought about. That makes you a faster driver and also provides you with more assurance in driving,” Lappi explains.

Lappi won the Finnish Championship title in the ICA karting series in 2007. The following year, he started driving a proper car and won all the 21 sprint races in which he participated. In 2009 he switched to rally, and a year later he had already won bronze in the Finnish SM2 series. The Finnish Championship in the series came in 2011. In 2012 he switched to four-wheel-drive, and now that the season is over, Lappi is the champion of the SM1 series.

Season 2013

Esapekka Lappi and Janne Ferm, Finnish Rally Champions of 2012, will be members of the Skoda team in the WRC-2 series with a Fabia Super 2000 in 2013.They will participate in selected WRC-2 events. Their schedule will be specified at a later date.Skoda put the pair to the test in an ERC Rally event in Poland in September. It was a success: they won their debut in a Skoda.

This year Esapekka Lappi, aged 21, won all the Finnish Rally Championship events, a European Championships event in Poland and a Swedish Championships event, and clocked the fastest time in five WRC stages in Finland. A protégée of the Norwegian EVEN Rally, Lappi is also a member of the Finnish association AKK Driver Academy’s top coaching team.