Tue 15 Mar 2022

Test programme key to Suninen’s Hyundai deal

Teemu Suninen believes a thorough test programme will provide his Hyundai Motorsport N squad with the best opportunity to win this year’s FIA World Rally Championship WRC2 teams’ title.

The Finn and Paraguay’s Fabrizio Zaldivar were named in Hyundai’s support category line-up on Tuesday morning. They will drive i20 N Rally2 cars, run by the Estonian-based RedGrey squad, at six gravel and one asphalt rounds.

Suninen has renewed a partnership with Hyundai that began with two outings for the Korean manufacturer at the end of last season after quitting his top-flight drive with M-Sport Ford two months earlier in August.

He wanted more testing with the British squad and feels this is an area which will strengthen Hyundai’s hand in the WRC2 battle.

“For me the key is to get enough time behind the wheel and in the car before rallies,” he said. “It is important to get the right feeling and have plenty of seat time to test the car.

“The last two years have been challenging in rallying with a lack of test and driving opportunities, but this year there should be plenty of thorough preparations for rallies, so I am looking forward to starting the season.”

“We have had already few development tests on Tarmac, although our focus in WRC2 this year is on gravel rallies. I’m more than happy to do more tests, as that was one key reason why I wanted to join Hyundai Motorsport.”

Suninen, who lives only 15 minutes from the team’s base just south of Tallinn, opens his programme at Vodafone Rally de Portugal (19 - 22 May), the event where he scored the first of his three outright podiums in 2018.

“My WRC podiums were in Rally de Portugal and Rally Italia Sardegna, so I want to be strong again there. Of course, I have a lot to learn about the new car, but I’m looking forward to the challenge,” he added.

Toksport is the clear leader of WRC2 after the first two rounds in Monte-Carlo and Sweden. Wins at both rounds for Andreas Mikkelsen gives the Skoda Fabia squad a comfortable 32 point lead over Yacco ACCR.

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