Suninen is searching for his first win of the season in the WRC’s premier support category and made his intentions clear on the first full day of action in Finland’s flowing forests.
The Hyundai i20 N Rally2 driver posted benchmark times on seven of the day’s nine superfast speed tests and arrived back in Jyväskylä with a solid 19.4sec advantage over nearest challenger Emil Lindholm as well as holding 10th overall.
“It's been a good day,” he said. “We've been pushing quite a lot and the other guys are giving us some pressure.
“Tomorrow is quite a tough day with long stages and big crests but mainly we'll continue like we have done today.”
Lindholm led the WRC2 Junior contingent and felt there was little more he could give as he pushed his Škoda Fabia Rally2 to its limits. He leapfrogged Mikko Heikkilä’s similar car in the final Sahloinen-Moksi blast, ending just three-tenths in front.
Sami Pajari - also driving a Fabia - impressed on his second-ever WRC2 start. The 20-year-old constantly set a podium-challenging pace and trailed Heikkilä by 6.8sec at the finish.
Egon Kaur survived a high-speed scare in the penultimate stage to bring his Volkswagen Polo GTI R5 home in fifth overall. The Estonian was 46.7sec back from the lead and, with Hyundai man Hayden Paddon only 5.0sec behind, will be keeping a close eye on his mirrors tomorrow.
Škoda pilot Gaurav Gill retired in the opening stage, as did Josh McErlean, whose i20 succumbed to damaged steering after hitting a rock.
• Full coverage from Secto Rally Finland is available on WRC+ All Live here, including every stage broadcast as it happens as well as key interviews, features and expert analysis from the service park.