WRC: Lappi linked to Toyota drive after Skoda exit

2016-08-29 14:37:11

Esapekka Lappi will definitely turn his back on Skoda and WRC2 at the end of this season, as rumours of a Toyota World Rally Championship drive for 2017 increase.

The Finn moved firmly into contention for the 2016 WRC2 title with his second consecutive class victory in Germany last week. Toyota team principal Tommi Makinen has already named Lappi as one of his targets for next year.

The Finn dismissed rumors that he tested a Yaris WRC shortly before Germany, but admitted he had visited Makinen at the Puuppola factory.

"I have been at the workshop," he said. "Tommi invited me to come and see the car and I think the rumour about me [driving the Yaris] started from there. It's not true, I cannot drive it.

"Toyota would be interesting for me, but they are interesting for many other drivers as well. This is not our decision to make, but I would like [to drive there] next year."

Lappi confirmed he would definitely be leaving Skoda, with which he won the European Rally Championship title in 2014.

"I signed with Skoda mid-way through 2012. I have been here for four and a half years  I think that's enough," he said. "The time has come to leave. I want to develop myself as a driver."

There are a significant number of young drivers chasing Toyota seats, including Lappi's main WRC2 rivals Elfyn Evans, Teemu Suninen and Pontus Tidemand.

One outside force that could impact the 2017 driver market will be the manufacturer point-scoring regulations for next season. If the FIA signs off on each team running three cars with the top two taking points, drivers with more experience could become more attractive. A decision on that regulation is expected from next month's World Motor Sport Council meeting.


Originally on Autosport.com

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