Toyota Gazoo Racing’s Esapekka Lappi is targetting a return to the Secto Rally Finland podium next week (4 – 7 August) – his first time competing at home in a factory car since 2019.
Lappi is, of course, no stranger to the top three positions in Jyväskylä: he won his first and only WRC round at the event in 2017 with Toyota and finished second in a Citroën two years later.
Last season he returned to the sport’s top flight after almost a year out of a World Rally Car and steered a privately-entered to fourth overall. Naturally, the Finn is looking forward to being back on home soil.
“It’s always a nice one to come home and compete on your own roads,” said Lappi, who is alternating GR Yaris Rally1 drives with eight-time world champion Sébastien Ogier this season.
“The roads are quite similar in Estonia,” said Lappi, ”so it does help to bring some seat time and some experience for the new car on the fast roads.”
As the last Finn to win the classic event, Lappi accepts there will be added pressure on his shoulders next week. But he’s also aware of his championship-leading countryman and team-mate Kalle Rovanperä, who is on fine form right now.
Rovanperä has won five of the last six rallies and leads the championship by 83 points. However, he has never won in Finland and crashed out of the event last year.
“Kalle [Rovanperä] will be fast,” Lappi admitted. “Maybe at the moment he is unbeatable, but I think we can be closer to him than we were last time in Estonia and for me the target for Finland has to be a podium at least.”