Esapekka Lappi has secured a privately-entered seat in a Toyota Yaris World Rally Car for October’s Rally Finland World Rally Championship event.
The Finnish driver has been absent from the WRC since leaving M-Sport last year. But on Thursday announced his return, in the hope of securing a full-time drive next year.
“It’s our own project so we’re going to rent a car but with mechanics from Toyota Gazoo Racing,” Lappi told WRC.com. “So it’s run by them, but it’s going to be in our own livery.”
The 30-year-old won his home event in 2017 driving a Toyota Yaris in what was only his fourth WRC start. He has since driven for Citroen and M-Sport, but has failed to add further wins to his record.
Lappi is hoping a positive result will lead to a full-time seat next year: “I hope this will help, but that’s why I need to be smart. I want that it will help me and not to destroy these negotiations, so that’s why I don’t want to push myself too much. I don’t want to make any extra pressure on myself.
“I cannot really set any targets for the finish in terms of position. I think we just need to concentrate more on stage times, general speed and improvement during the weekend.
“That’s probably the smartest way to do it because I cannot really predict in which kind of speed I’m going to do on the first day. It’s very hard to understand where we are.
“I’m lacking a bit of routine, that’s very clear. I believe the day of testing will mainly just be to get used to the speed again, to get used to the aero.
“I’m sure that still during the event, at the beginning, I try to understand again how fast you can go in these cars. Probably, or at least I hope, by the weekend we can get up to speed again and hopefully do some good times towards the end of the rally.”
The addition of Lappi means there will be a total of five Yaris cars in Finland, with the four factory cars for championship leader Sebastien Ogier, Elfyn Evans, Kalle Rovanperä and Takamoto Katsuta.