M-Sport keeps Suninen and signs Lappi for 2020 WRC season
M-Sport Ltd has retained Teemu Suninen for the 2020 FIA World Rally Championship (WRC) and hired Esapekka Lappi to drive the Ford Fiesta.
M-Sport Ltd will field two Ford Fiestas for the full WRC season in 2020 with Suninen (with co-driver Jarmo Lehtinen) and Lappi (with co-driver Janne Ferm), while Gus Greensmith and Elliott Edmondson will have a limited schedule.
The duo will take part in rallies in Monte Carlo, Mexico, Argentina, Portugal, Sardinia, Finland, Turkey, Germany and Wales. M-Sport Ford is banking on youngsters for 2020 as Lappi continues in WRC after Citroen Racing folded out its programme.
M-Sport's Malcolm Wilson said: "We’re going back to our roots in more ways than one this year – fielding a young team and welcoming two sets of Finns back to the family. We enjoyed some fantastic results with Marcus, Mikko and Jari-Matti.
"Now I’m looking forward to seeing how the next generation of Flying Finns develop. But our core philosophy has always been the promotion and progression of young talent, and in Esapekka, Teemu and Gus we have three talented youngsters who are all capable of delivering some strong results.
"The team may be a young one, but they have the experience and ambition to go far – and I’m keen to see what they can achieve in 2020." M-Sport Team Principal, Richard Millener, stated: "There’s a lot of potential in our 2020 line-up and our aim is to continue challenging for the top results.
"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. 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."
Joining his new team, Lappi said: "I’m really looking forward to this new adventure and I’m excited to see what we can achieve. 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."
Meanwhile, Suninen added: "I’m really grateful to Malcolm and the team for their belief in me. 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 with M-Sport.
"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!"
And finally, Greensmith added: "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."
[Image courtesy: Red Bull Content Pool] [Note: This story was also written by me on FormulaRapida.net]