Local stars come out in Finland

The home crowds at Neste Rally Finland [27 - 30 July] will have plenty of local talent to support next week when a strong field of established and rising star drivers take to the stages.

Toyota team-mates and experienced competitors Jari-Matti Latvala and Juho Hänninen head the local entries, and will be joined in the top level by two of the WRC's hottest young talents: Esapekka Lappi and Teemu Suninen [pictured above].

In the last couple of rounds, the two Finnish youngsters have underlined their potential with superb performances. Lappi, 26, made his debut for Toyota in Portugal, and on only his second start in Sardinia he came fourth overall and won six stages [see profile video below].

Suninen made his top-flight debut in Poland with M-Sport, and the 23-year-old set a fastest stage time on his first full day in a Fiesta WRC before finishing sixth.

Lappi and Suninen finished first and second respectively in Finland's WRC 2 counter in 2016, and this time they are being tipped to shine at the highest level.

Suninen’s career took off after he was chosen as the first recipient of the Future Rally Star of Finland award (organised by Neste Rally Finland promoter AKK Sports) in 2014, and this year's entry list boasts all of the programme's winners.

Suninen's two successors Jari Huttunen (2015) and Juuso Nordgren (2016) both make their debuts in the WRC 2 category behind the wheel of Skoda Fabia R5s. The 2017 Future Star, Emil Lindholm, will be one of eight drivers competing for honours in Junior WRC.

Another local talent to look out for is Max Vatanen, son of 1981 world champion Ari, who steps up in a Ford Fiesta R5 after winning the Drive DMACK Trophy contest on home soil in 2016.

Click here to see the full entry list.


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