Back in 2012, the Rally Poland was part of the FIA European Rally Championship (ERC) and having already secured the Finnish Rally Championship title that year with a record seven victors out of seven events, it was the setting for the debut drive in a FABIA S2000 for a 21-year old Finnish driver, who had previously competed only in three rallies outside his homeland.
Lappi’s entry was viewed very much as being a test-drive with fellow Finn and ŠKODA works driver Juho Hänninen having already secured the ERC championship title. Esapekka was also up against some high-quality and experienced local drivers, but there was certainly no lack of ambition from him ahead of the event.
Esapekka Lappi and his regular co-driver Janne Ferm made the best possible start, winning the opening two stages before a second place finish in special stage 3 saw him slip to second in the standings.
But from there on their performance was faultless, as they won the final four stages of the first leg to lead overnight before blowing the competition away on the second leg, winning all six stages to the way to a dominant victory. In the end, Lappi finished up 2 minutes and 14 seconds ahead of his closest challenger, a remarkable feat on what was not only his first drive at this event but also his first drive in a FABIA S2000 as well.
That rally was to be the start of a long-standing relationship between ŠKODA Motorsport and Esapekka Lappi, which was to culminate last year with his championship-winning season in the WRC2, after previously winning the European Rally Championship title in 2014.
This year, in his debut season in the WRC category, Esapekka Lappi has already impressed scoring points on his debut at the Rally de Portugal, where he finished tenth overall, before his hugely impressive fourth place finish at the recent Rallye Italia Sardegna, where he won six stages, including the final Power Stage.
As Esapekka continues the next chapter of his career at this year’s Rally Poland, he does so with our best wishes for his future career. He will always be part of the ŠKODA Motorsport family and that performance at the Rally Poland back in 2012 will forever be part of ŠKODA Motorsport’s history.