28-year-old Finn Esapekka Lappi moved to Citroën from Toyota this year and has faced a difficult first half of the FIA World Rally Championship. Lappi is ninth in the drivers’ championship at the moment and there is no promise for fast improvement.
We had an honor to do question & answer interview with Lappi.
Question: what is your feeling about the season so far?
– It’s been s*it. There is not much else to say. One good result (second in Rally Sweden) does not make things any brighter. It has been very challenging, but we have to try to improve our results.
– There have of course also been my own mistakes. Driving has felt pretty good, but it doesn't show up in the stage times and then there is overdriving, which then leads to mistakes. We also have reached the homologation limit for this season, so we can't bring in new parts that might help.
Question: At what point did you realize that it takes time to get used to the car?
– I realized it in Rally Sweden. There, at a familiar rally, I saw how challenging the driving was. My driving style is causing challenges with this car. I trusted that I could change my driving style, but I can't do as much as I should.
Question: Have you found any solutions?
– In Portugal we went ahead. Maybe we had new parts then, but I wasn't told. Now those have been tested before the Neste Rally Finland. However, such a combination of diffs (differential locks) is not possible to get what I would like. It could be done 50/50, but then the other half would mean that we lose performance. And if we take that combination now, then it must be in the next four rallies as well.
Question: How would you compare Toyota and Citroën?
– Compared to the 2017 Toyota, this car is pretty similar. The front rises quite a bit because of the lack of aero. However, the car is not as responsive as Toyota.
Question: How is cooperation with Sébastien Ogier?
– Now we have been facing the same challenges. He has started to understand the challenges I have been speaking about. Of course, it takes time to react and test the car and parts to be reliable. Next year this will surely be a pretty good car.
Question: What are the expectations for Neste Rally Finland?
– I wish I will enjoy driving there. Then the result is probably moderate. Without others' retirements there is no change to win.
Question: How does the rest of the season 2019 look like?
– Probably not very strong. We thought we would have been strong in Corsica, but we weren’t. Germany is probably not very good then either.
Question: How does the season 2020 look like?
– Next year there will be new aero parts. We will try to make as good car as we can. At the moment we are lacking performance.
The Finnish round of the FIA World Rally Championship, Neste Rally Finland, will be held in Jyväskylä and Central Finland 1-4 August.