Wednesday | 29 Jul 2015

Junior debutant inspired by rally legend Loeb

Finnish youngster Jari Huttunen pits his skills against the established names of the FIA Junior WRC for the first time at Neste Oil Rally Finland this week after using the success of nine-time world champion Sébastien Loeb to fire his fledgling career.

Huttunen, 21, was chosen as rallying’s Future Star of Finland 2015 and his prize is a funded entry into his home rally and a Junior WRC nomination.

He is in only his second season of pace note competition after being inspired to start competing by the French legend’s domination of the WRC. He already has two class wins in the Finnish Championship.

“I was following the results of Sébastien Loeb because he was the driver winning everything. I actually started in karting but we didn’t have any money to carry on so we looked at the rallysprints as something we could afford because it wasn’t so expensive,” said car mechanic Huttunen.

“In 2012 my first car was 1200 Euros but in proper rallying now it’s much more expensive and that’s the problem.

Quentin Gilbert - leads Junior WRC standings

“Cars are my big interest and my dream is to be a rally driver full-time. If I can achieve that I will be very happy,” he added.

Huttunen is one of 12 Junior WRC drivers in Finland, all driving Citroën’s identical DS 3 R3-MAX cars.

Despite a disappointing score in Poland earlier this month, Quentin Gilbert heads the standings by 11 points from Simone Tempestini, courtesy of wins at the opening two rounds in Monte-Carlo and Portugal.

Tempestini will hope to build on his Polish win while Finn Henri Haapamäki, who claimed a podium there, will be a force to be reckoned with at his home event. Ole-Christian Veiby missed Poland but the Norwegian, who leads the WRC 3 standings, remains in contention for title honours.

Headline photograph by Toni Ollikainen / AKK Sports Oy

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