World Rally Car debutant Teemu Suninen believes a top six finish could be on the cards as he steps up to the WRC’s headline category for the next two rallies.
The WRC 2 frontrunner drives a Ford Fiesta WRC at next week’s Orlen 74th Rally Poland (29 June - 2 July), less than three years after his championship debut.
He makes a second appearance in the M-Sport World Rally Team car on home terrain at Neste Rally Finland (27 - 30 July). Both events are characterised by blisteringly fast gravel roads of the type on which he began his career.
“My target is to improve my driving a lot and, of course, it’s going to be a difficult rally moving from WRC 2 to WRC, which is many, many times more tricky,” the 23-year-old told wrc.com.
“We will try to get a good result from the rally. I would say finishing in the top six would be great, without any mistakes or without any problems.”
Suninen tested Toyota Gazoo Racing’s Yaris last year as the team prepared for its WRC return. He also has the benefit of a two-day test in Britain before Poland, his first opportunity to drive a Fiesta WRC.
“I think the mid-speed corners and high-speed corners are where you can feel much more the power and you need to change the driving style.
“At this point in my career I know well how to drive an R5 car. A medium right, 50 metres, medium left I can drive flat out, but in a World Rally Car you need to brake. The notes will stay the same but I just need to drive these cars a little bit differently,” he explained.
Suninen joins Esapekka Lappi as the latest generation Finns to break into the World Rally Car category. Lappi finished a remarkable fourth in Italy on only his second Toyota outing earlier this month and is expected to tackle all this year’s remaining rounds.
“I want to follow Esapekka and even try to beat him,” said Suninen, who finished second to his fellow countryman in WRC 2 last season.
“It’s nice to see that the guy who we were fighting with last year is now making really good results. The future looks good for the Finns, but still we need to do a lot of work, both of us.”