Esapekka Lappi, who stunned WRC regulars by leading the Super 2000 world championship section of Neste Oil Rally Finland in the summer, has signed for Skoda Motorsport to pilot a Fabia S2000 in the new support category.
But while the 21-year-old Finn’s programme for 2013 remains unclear, Skoda Motorsport chief Michal Hrabanek has confirmed that the Czech make will begin preparing its future motorsport activities next summer with an R5-specification rally car projected mooted.
“Becoming part of a factory team is every driver’s dream,” said Lappi, who will continue to be co-driven by Janne Ferm. “The Skoda Fabia Super 2000 is the best car in its category. Janne and I appreciate this opportunity a great deal and we will do our best to be very useful members of the factory team.”
Hrabanek added: “We have a new factory crew and we obviously have fairly high expectations about their results.”
Meanwhile, Lappi and Ferm’s arrival at Skoda has signalled the departure of Juho Hanninen and Mikko Markkula from the squad following a four-year stint. Hanninen and Markkula won the SWRC title with Skoda in 2011.