Suninen predicts tight fight in Finland
Home hero Teemu Suninen believes replicating his front-running performance at last year’s Neste Rally Finland will prove difficult during this week’s event (26-29 July).
The M-Sport Ford World Rally Team driver was one of the stars in Finland 12 months ago and was on course for a career-best second place with two stages to run.
However, he was denied a fairytale ending in only his second event in a World Rally Car when a spin on the penultimate stage relegated him to fourth.
Suninen’s disappointment has increased his motivation this year – but he expects the competition to be even tougher when the Jyväskylä-based event gets underway on Thursday night.
“I try to get better results this year than in previous years – my target is always to improve but it is going to be difficult because the level is already high, and it is going to be a really tight fight,” he explained.
The 24-year-old arrives at his home event in good form. He scored a maiden podium at Vodafone Rally de Portugal and came close to registering a top-five finish at Rally Italia Sardegna before going off the road on SS9.
Suninen said he found a good feeling during his pre-Finland test, even though new sections in this year’s route called for a different approach behind the wheel.
He explained: “The routes are a bit more technical, quite narrow, so we needed to change the set-up on the car and also the driving style. That was mainly to be cleaner and not hit the rocks – that’s one of the biggest challenges for us now.”
A start position of 10th in Friday’s running order might offer a cleaning advantage on the first day of action but Suninen doesn’t believe it will make a significant difference.
“There are actually quite a lot of routes on ‘farmers’ asphalt’ [smooth gravel tracks with a firm base] so there is not so much of a cleaning effect,” Suninen told wrc.com.
“On stage six [Oitilla] there was quite a lot of loose gravel, so I’ll try and attack there and make up good times. It will be important to have a clean day on Friday to get into a good position, top three or four, for Saturday.”
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