The double world champion oversees 28-year-old Huttunen’s career through his GRX Management Team business and believes the time is right for the 28-year-old to establish himself in the WRC’s top tier.
“I’m not looking at a five-year plan,” he told WRC.com. “We need to come somewhere in the next one or two years. It is time to move forward.
“OK, there are not Rally1 cars easily available and places free, but I hope he can do some good times when he becomes familiar with the car.”
Video: Secto Rally Finland top 5 moments
Huttunen, the 2020 WRC3 champion, posted a fourth fastest time in an M-Sport Ford Puma at Secto Rally Finland, but his hopes of a strong result were stymied by fuel pressure and power steering issues.
Grönholm, who has close links with M-Sport boss Malcolm Wilson after leading his squad to back to-back manufacturers’ world titles in 2006 and 2007, believes Huttunen deserves more opportunities to make the breakthrough.
“He won the WRC3 title two years ago but never had the chance to go further. Now we are with M-Sport and Ford and now he had his first chance, finally, to have his first test with a Rally1,” Grönholm explained.
“It is not easy. To come here following his one-day test and to show his speed against others who have been in the car many times is not easy. So far, he is doing OK.”
Huttunen, who eventually finished ninth, made a good impression on team principal Richard Millener.
“I think he did a good job. He didn’t make any mistakes and he was building the speed. It’s not easy to jump in at this level, but Jari has shown that it can be done. He had a day of testing in Estonia before this and I’m impressed with what he’s done here,” Millener said.
Huttunen himself is eager for more Rally1 seat time.
“I want to drive this car again, of course, but I don’t know when,” he said. “I have to thank my sponsors for making it happen for me in Finland. I was going step-by-step and making good progress.”
“The car feels amazing, When we had the problems, all I could do was drive and make no mistakes. I did that.”
Huttunen’s drive was partly made possible by Grönholm’s connections with official WRC partner Wolf Lubricants, for whom he works as a brand ambassador. Wolf provided crucial support to enable the deal to come together.
Huttunen returns to M-Sport Ford’s Fiesta Rally2 at next week’s Ypres Rally Belgium (18 - 21 August) as he resumes his WRC2 campaign. He lies sixth in the standings.