together they put Finnish energy expertise on the map

What do KPA Unicon Oy and rally driver Esapekka Lappi have in common? A lot. Things in common include city of Pieksämäki, their growth stories and 15 years of shared history. On this basis, Lappi will grab the wheel of his new “tool” at the Monte Carlo opening race of the FIA World Rally Championship (WRC) season. KPA Unicon is the main sponsor of Lappi for 2020.

“Without the support of KPA Unicon then and currently, I might not be sitting here now,” Lappi states.

Let’s go 15 years back in time. In 2005, Lappi drove karting, competing in the local series and later in the Finnish Championships and dreaming of a career in the highest class of track racing, Formula 1. KPA Unicon, for its part, was a family business of 25 people, operating mainly in the domestic and Russian markets.

Now, in 2020, the rider from Pieksämäki, who grew up on karting tracks, is a 29-year-old rally driver driving his third full season at the World Rally Championship series. At the same time, KPA Unicon has grown into a organization of 250 people that thrives in the global markets. What is the secret behind these growth stories?

“Our company philosophy is perseverance. We understand that growth takes time. It has been nice to follow Esapekka’s growth path, and what we have accomplished over the past 15 years is important to us. We have been with him and supported him during difficult times, even when the direction was not clear. Long-term cooperation is a value in itself,” says Jukka-Pekka Kovanen, CEO of KPA Unicon.

New year, new tricks

At the start of the season, Lappi jumps into M-Sport overalls and drives a Ford Fiesta. A man familiar to him, Janne Ferm, continues as the co-driver. Lappi and Ferm have been driving together for 10 years. They praised the new team and the car after their first test runs.

“I´ve got positive vibes. M-Sport is a private, family-owned business ­– just like KPA Unicon. The team responds to things more quickly and flexibly than in bigger teams, and everyone is within easy reach. The crew is qualified,” Lappi says, and continues on to say, “We tested our car in France for the Rallye Monte Carlo. The car was very logical, overall easy to drive. The basic adjustments were in place, so there was no need to make changes. Of course, after the first race we’ll understand better, but the overall feeling is good.”

At M-Sport, Lappi will have Teemu Suninen as a teammate. Lappi and Suninen have already raced together on karting tracks. Now, this is where they will come full circle, as they compete against each other on rally roads instead of racetracks.

“If somebody had said 15 years ago that we‘d be driving rally at the World Championship series in the same team, I’d have said yeah, right,” Lappi says with a laugh.

Photo: Milla Piirainen