Rallying-Lappi joins M-Sport Ford after Citroen exit

LONDON, Jan 2 (Reuters) - Finnish driver Esapekka Lappi will race for the M-Sport Ford team in this year’s world rally championship after previous employers Citroen withdrew at the end of last season.

The experienced 28-year-old will be the British-based team’s lead driver with compatriot Teemu Suninen, 25, the other main contender.

Britain’s Gus Greensmith, 23, will compete in nine of the championship’s 14 rounds in a third car.

The M-Sport seat became available for Lappi after Elfyn Evans moved to Toyota.

It will be the first time M-Sport have had two Finns as their main drivers since Mikko Hirvonen was partnered with Marcus Gronholm and Jari-Matti Latvala between 2006-11.

“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,” managing director Malcolm Wilson said in a statement.

“We enjoyed some fantastic results with Marcus, Mikko and Jari-Matti and now I’m looking forward to seeing how the next generation of Flying Finns develop.”

The season starts this month with the Jan. 23-26 Monte Carlo Rally. (Reporting by Alan Baldwin; Editing by Alison Williams)