Rising young Finnish star Teemu Suninen can clinch the WRC 2 title with victory at this week’s Dayinsure Wales Rally GB (27 - 30 October).
Should the 22-year-old slip up in the notoriously tricky Welsh forests, then fellow Skoda Fabia R5 drivers Esapekka Lappi and Jan Kopecký are snapping at his heels and could take the destination of the crown to next month’s final round in Australia.
Suninen, who drives for the privately-run Oreca team, is 15 points behind series leader Elfyn Evans. The Welshman has completed his quota of rallies while Suninen has a final opportunity to add to his tally on his favoured gravel surface in Wales.
Both fellow Finn Lappi and Czech champion Kopecký, third and fourth in the points, can score in both Britain and Australia and the Skoda Motorsport duo are eager to stop Suninen in his tracks.
“I love these pressure situations and travel to Wales full of confidence. After all, we won our last two rallies in a row in Finland and Germany,” said Lappi.
Kopecký is known as an asphalt expert but is riding the crest of a wave after victory in Spain’s mixed surface encounter a fortnight ago. “I showed there that I can also perform on gravel. I’m out to underline that in Wales,” he promised.
This penultimate round has plenty of depth, with category winners Pontus Tidemand and Peru’s Nicolas Fuchs, fifth and sixth in the standings, lining up in Fabia R5s and Marius Aasen in a Ford Fiesta R5.
Works Hyundai driver Kevin Abbring gives the Korean manufacturer’s i20 R5 its second outing, while Junior WRC regular Ole Christian Veiby has a second opportunity to show his pace in the higher category. The Norwegian won the Junior encounter here in 2015.
Several British drivers go up against the WRC 2 regulars. Osian Pryce steps up to a Fiesta R5 after clinching the Drive DMACK Fiesta Trophy in Spain, while Gus Greensmith has shown strong pace in that series. Fredrik Ahlin was a British Championship event winner this season and could spring a surprise among the frontrunners.