The Finn’s mistake on the Italian island opener came in stark contrast to last season when he scorched into a breathtaking 12sec lead on one of the most technically demanding stages of the season.
This time around, he overcooked his Fiesta World Rally Car into a right bend in the Filigosa – Sa Conchedda test, the car rolling onto its side on the outside of the corner. The car was righted onto four wheels, but it would not restart and he was sidelined for the rest of the day.
He returned to open the roads for the remaining two legs, eventually finishing 31st.
Video: Rally Italia Sardegna best of action
“I need to do a bit of a reset after Sardinia,” said Suninen. “Rallying can be tough sometimes and it was tough on that event. I need to find the better feeling and make a better drive again.”
Adrien Fourmaux drives the second factory Fiesta at Safari Rally Kenya (24 - 27 June) alongside Gus Greensmith, but Suninen hopes to be back at the top level for the following round at Rally Estonia (15 - 18 July) – his adopted home event.
“It looks like this could be the next one for me,” he said. “I really like this event. Let’s see what I can do on this one.”
Team principal Richard Millener admitted there was frustration at Suninen’s early exit from an event where he scored his best WRC finish with second place in 2019. It followed a similar first stage exit at the season-opening Rallye Monte-Carlo.
“Two rallies in the World Rally Car and he hasn’t got further than the first stage,” said Millener, “of course that’s frustrating. But, at the same time, Teemu hadn’t tested [for Sardinia] and he hadn’t driven on these tyres.
“What we were looking for was a steady improvement through the event. Instead, he’s gone out on the first stage and that makes things tough.”