Italy driver report: Part 1
How did the top drivers fare in Italy?
The 21-year-old will receive a prize drive on Neste Oil Rally Finland next month in a Citroën DS3 R3T, enabling him to follow in the footsteps of last year's winner, Teemu Suninen, who used it to win the WRC 3 section of his home round of the world championship and was later signed by Toyota.
“I’m delighted and surprised to win this amazing prize,” said Huttunen, who was co-driven by Antti Linnaketo. “There is a huge tradition of rallying in Finland, so to become part of it and to be recognised in this way is a big privilege. It’s the biggest opportunity of my life.”
Huttunen had to go head-to-head against three other competitors – Ville-Markus Marttinen, Joonas Tokee and Joni Viitala – to win the prize, which was judged over two days in Finland. The assessment included a recce test, where former World Rally Championship co-driver Jarmo Lehtinen judged each candidate’s ability to make pace notes, a psychological test, designed to assess each candidate’s mental strength and attitude, a physical training test, to reveal each candidate’s agility and fitness, and finally an interview – just to find out more about each driver and what makes them tick.
In order to take part, each driver had to be under 25 and in the top five of the R2 class points table after the first four rounds of the Finnish Rally Championship that have taken place so far: the Arctic Lapland Rally, the Vaakuna Rally, the Pohjanmaa Rally and the Itaralli. The judging panel consisted of a number of experts including Neste Oil Rally Finland Clerk of the Course Kai Tarkiainen, Jarmo Lehtinen, and Marc De Jong from WRC Promoter.
Huttunen, who will benefit from a full testing programme in his Citroën before the start of Neste Oil Rally Finland, comes from the town of Kiuruvesi, north of event host city Jyväskylä. He originally started his career in karting, before moving into rallying. “My goal is to become a professional rally driver one day,” he said. “This is a very exciting step towards that goal, so I would like to thank everyone who made it possible and had faith in me. I’m going to work as hard as I can to make the most of that opportunity.”