Esapekka Lappi will not be ready to fight for the 2018 WRC title despite his Rally Finland win, says his Toyota teammate Jari-Matti Latvala.
Lappi's shock Finland victory came in just his fourth WRC start, but Latvala believes the 26-year-old WRC2 champion's inexperience will still be a stumbling block next season.
“For the championship he needs a little bit more experience,” said Latvala, who is Toyota's best-placed driver in the current standings, 46 points behind Hyundai's Thierry Neuville.
"There are still rallies where he has not been, like Mexico, and when you want to fight for the title you need to have done all of the rallies.”
Lappi concurs with Latvala assessment
Lappi began 2017 on testing duties for Toyota as it ran only Latvala and Juho Hanninen until it had a third car ready from the Rally of Portugal in May.
Prior to moving up to the top class this season, Lappi spent two years in WRC2, but had competed in the Finnish and European championships before then so has limited experience of the WRC calendar.
Lappi agreed with Latvala's assessment and played down expectations for the next WRC round in Germany.
"It's true what Jari-Matti said," Lappi admitted. "As we saw, I have good experience from Rally Finland - that was my sixth time competing there.
"But next week in Germany, that's not in my comfort zone. Argentina and Mexico I have never done and you need to be [competitive] in every rally for the title.
"It's a big challenge if I even want to talk about the championship. The priority for me is to get the experience from the rallies and to make the results consistent and then at a higher level."
Lappi and Latvala are both confirmed for Toyota next season, but Hanninen is expected to be dropped as team boss Tommi Makinen considers making a bid to sign one of M-Sport's drivers for 2018.