When he debuts with Citroen at Monte Carlo, Esapekka Lappi becomes the latest in a long line of Finnish drivers who have rallied with French teams. Over 50 years ago, Pauli Toivonen controversially won Rally Monte Carlo in a Citroen, but his experience does not bear recalling. Ari Vatanen used to enthuse about the little French mannerisms, all the team members shaking hands each morning, the politely affectionate embraces of the lady team members. Martin Holmes asked what Esapekka has already noticed about the French, now he has started with Citroen? "Maybe this is too difficult a question at the moment. I've not learned enough yet," he says. "One of the immediate things I noticed is that there are a lot of people in the team. I think that might be something to do with the employment laws. In France these are pretty strict, you can't work all hours. "So far as as people are concerned it means the people are more fresh when they start each day, they are motivated, they are not tired, their quality is better when, for example, they are building the cars or repairing them.

Esapekka Lappi's last drive for Toyota was on November's Rally Australia. Photo: Peter Whitten

"So at least this kind of atmosphere is good. I think it's a good way to do it. So they have resources to think about, many many different things on the car, a lot of backups which I haven't seen before. That's mainly the first thing that they do differently." And how is your French speaking coming on? "I was surprised so many people spoke English in the team. I was expecting there to be less. "Let's say okay in Toyota everybody spoke English, but in Skoda days I think it was harder to make the team spirit higher or be at a good level if you cannot communicate except with hands! "That's a really important part in my opinion, to make your own team, from your own mechanics that they will push a lot because of me or because of you. "That's why I'm really pleased that they are speaking English ... the only Finn which I have brought with me to the team is my co-driver Janne Ferm!"

Ogier calls for Down Under WRC rotation:

Get full, exclusive access for only $6.55/month.
  • Full access
  • Exclusive news
  • Store & Tour discounts

Show Your Support


Recent Posts