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True to its tradition of putting its faith in young drivers and supporting them to the top of the sport, Citroën Racing has chosen the most promising youngster in the WRC in Esapekka Lappi.

The 27 year-old Finn has emerged in the last few seasons as a future champion and already has an impressive competitive record for someone with such limited experience (40 starts in the world championship, 19 of which in a WRC).

It was in 2012, at Rally Finland, that Esapekka first made his mark on the world scene when, for long periods, he more than held his own against a certain Sébastien Ogier in the same class.

After claiming the Finnish Rally Championship that year, winning all seven rounds, he continued his gradual improvement, becoming European champion in 2014 and securing the WRC2 title in 2016.

Esapekka Lappi driving for Toyota at Rally Australia. Photo: Peter Whitten

Since the 2017 Rally de Portugal, where he made his WRC debut, Esapekka has continued to impress, also establishing himself as a "Flying Finn", yet another talented driver from a country that has long punched above its weight in the world of rallying. His maiden win at his home round in Finland last year, in only his fourth outing in a WRC, further cemented his growing reputation.

This season, he has once again confirmed his undoubted pace, showing consistency and speed on all surfaces (3rdin Sardinia, Germany and Wales). In fact, he currently lies fourth in the championship, behind three drivers who are fighting it out in one of the most closely-contested title races in years.

All of which suggests that with Janne Ferm, his co-driver since 2010, the pair will be perfectly complementary to Sébastien Ogier and Julien Ingrassia, the first crew announced for next year's line-up.

A powerful combination of experience and youth, the Ogier-Lappi pairing is unquestionably impressive and will be tasked with winning on all surfaces from 2019.

"Obviously, I'm delighted to be joining the team and to be the future team-mate of Sébastien," Lappi said. "It’s a good opportunity for me to keep developing. After having learned many things from Jari-Matti Latvala last year, and from Ott Tänak this year, I'll have everything it takes to be even better if I also manage to draw inspiration from Seb!" "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."
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