Lappi targets learning year
Esapekka Lappi will focus on learning from new Citroën team-mate Sébastien Ogier this season to catapult him towards a WRC title push in 2020.
The Finn will line up alongside the six-time world champion at Citroën Total World Rally Team after making the switch from Toyota.
Despite claiming a win and a further three podiums with the Japanese manufacturer, Lappi admits he’s not ready to mount a title challenge this year.
But he’s determined to use the campaign to prepare for a big push in 2020 – and believes his experiences as team-mate to Ogier will be key to achieving that.
“I don’t believe it is my year for a title challenge,” Lappi told wrc.com. “I still need a bit more experience on some rallies. This year is more about trying to learn and better understand the big picture.
“I'll try to learn something from Seb, how he adapts to things, his strategy and how he is behaving during the weekends. He is the champ. Maybe for me 2020 is a different story.”
Lappi has formed a positive first impression of Citroën’s C3 – a car that has delivered only three wins since it was introduced in 2017.
He said: “When you discover the car in the factory you can see how it’s built and designed. They’ve used a lot of energy to make it simple for the drivers to change things between the stages. I’ve been really impressed about that.
“It made me wonder why the results have not been better, because for me there is a lot of potential with the car.”
With the prospect of a competitive package at his disposal, Lappi has targeted an improvement on fifth place in the 2018 drivers’ championship.
“For sure I would like to be better than last year, which means minimum top four at the end of the year,” he confirmed. “But there will be a lot of drivers trying to do the same. Improvement is the most important thing.”