The M-Sport Ford World Rally Team, partnered by Acronis, has announced that new drivers Esapekka Lappi, Teemu Suninen and Gus Greensmith will join the team for the 2020 FIA World Rally Championship season.
Lappi, who is a proven winner on the world rally circuit, will lead the team in partnership with co-driver Janne Ferm behind the wheel of the EcoBoost-powered Ford Fiesta WRC. Last year, Lappi and Fern secured their maiden WRC victory on home soil at the 2017 Rally of Finland and were runners-up on three occasions during a successful 2019 campaign.
“I’m really looking forward to this new adventure and I’m excited to see what we can achieve,” said Lappi in the team’s press release. “M-Sport Ford has a real passion for rally and there were a lot of talented drivers available for this seat, so I’m very happy they put their trust in us – giving myself and Janne an opportunity to show what we can do in 2020.
“We start testing this week, and I’m really looking forward to discovering the Fiesta. The last time I drove a Ford we had a lot of success and it would be great to see that continue this year. I can’t wait to get started, and hope we can push for some strong results.”
Joining Lappi at M-Sport Ford World Rally Team are Teemu Suninen and Jarmo Lehtinen, who continue their partnership with Suninen having secured his first podium in 2018 and led his first rally in 2019.
“I’m really grateful to Malcolm and the team for their belief in me,” said Suninen. “I feel as though I learnt a lot over the past 12 months, and I’m looking forward to seeing what Jarmo and I can do in 2020. Last year taught me that I need to give everything in all of the rallies if I want to reach the top results – and that’s what I hope to do this year.
“It’s also really great to be in a team with Esapekka because he was something of a hero to me in my childhood. When I started go-karting as a teenager in Finland, he was in the same team and winning the championship. Three years later I was able to do the same, and now we’re both in rally and both back in the same team!”
Completing the team line-up, and making it a combined age of 25 for the three drivers, are British talents Gus Greensmith and Elliott Edmondson. The Brits will get their season underway in Monte-Carlo before events in Mexico, Argentina, Portugal, Sardinia, Finland, Turkey, Germany and Wales.
The youngsters made a strong debut when they took to the wheel of the top-specification Fiesta for the first time last year – bettering the time of both Sébastien Loeb and Sébastien Ogier on their very first speed test; and the team are keen to see them continue their development at the highest level this year.
“I have been waiting for this opportunity my whole life, and now I have it. I’ve progressed through M-Sport Ford’s, ‘Ladder of Opportunity,’ from R1, to R2, to R5 and now WRC. I owe a lot to everyone at M-Sport and Ford who has helped me progress as a driver, but there is still a lot more to come.
“The team may be young, but we’re all ultra-competitive and together I’m sure we can deliver some strong performances. During the off season I have made some big improvements to myself outside of the rally car. I have never been fitter, and I have never been faster, and when the light turns green for the first stage of 2020, I will be ready.”
Talking about his exciting new driver line-up, Team Principal, Richard Millener said that the ultimate aim was to convert this undoubted talent into rally wins.
“There’s a lot of potential in our 2020 line-up and our aim is to continue challenging for the top results,” said Millener. “A rally win is the ultimate goal, and I think we have every chance of achieving that. Everyone is determined to deliver, and we can’t wait to get stuck in.
— M-Sport (@MSportLtd) January 2, 2020
“Esapekka is a proven winner and there is no doubting his speed. He finished second three times last year so I’m looking forward seeing how he gets to grips with the Fiesta. And if it’s anything like the last time he got behind the wheel of a Ford then we’re in for one hell of a season!
“I think a lot of people will be keen to see what Teemu can do too. He and Jarmo work really well together and I wouldn’t be surprised if we saw them challenging for the top results on quite a few events this year. It’s also great to see Gus back with nine events in the Fiesta WRC. He had a really strong debut last year and he’s only going to get stronger and more confident as the season progresses. This is very much a learning year for him, but if I know Gus he’ll want to make his mark too!”