Wed 07 Jun 2023

Lappi happy to support Neuville at Hyundai

Esapekka Lappi is content with being the 'second' driver to Thierry Neuville at Hyundai Motorsport, the Finn has revealed.

Lappi joined the Alzenau-based squad at the beginning of this season after parting ways with rival team Toyota Gazoo Racing, where he had been sharing a GR Yaris with eight-time world champion Sébastien Ogier.

The Finn has certainly not lacked pace aboard his i20 N car, as proven by a hat-trick of podium finishes in the past three rallies. He also fought at the sharp end in Sweden and Mexico before off-road excursions put paid to his efforts.

But Lappi, currently sixth in the drivers’ championship, is also aware of his status at Hyundai where colleague Neuville - who has been with the team since 2014 - is seen as the team leader.

“You need to accept it,” Lappi revealed in an interview prior to Rally Italia Sardegna. “It's part of your job. That's how it is. If you don't accept it, you don't have a job.

“Thierry has been here for 10 years and he's been very successful in his career, and he has had the chance to fight for the title. So, we are here to, for sure, still [fight] for our own championship, but also to support Thierry.

“If we can, get Thierry and Hyundai their first drivers' title and then for sure, bring as many points as we can for the manufacturers’ [championship] as well,” he added.

Lappi admitted that the opportunity to compete in all 13 rounds of this year’s FIA World Rally championship spurred his decision to join Hyundai. He finished second overall to Neuville in Italy last week, having led for a portion of the Mediterranean island fixture.

“I saw it as a chance to do a full championship again,” he continued. “Last year, I noticed that when I do back-to-back rallies, I'm getting better and better. The speed is there immediately and it's even increasing.

“That also encouraged me to accept this full season offer. I was thinking that I can really, during the year, get faster and faster and there is still a theoretical chance to fight for the championship as well.”

Raw Rally Action: WRC Rally Italia Sardegna 2023
Starts: Thursday, July 18, 2024 at 4:31:00 AM
Starts: Friday, July 26, 2024 at 7:00:00 AM
Starts: Saturday, July 27, 2024 at 6:00:00 AM