Neuville sees a promising future for Suninen

Thierry Neuville has praised his Hyundai team-mate's Chile performance - despite him crashing out

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Hyundai driver Thierry Neuville has backed his team-mate Teemu Suninen to have a very promising future in the World Rally Championship, despite the mistake that cost Hyundai a double podium in Rally Chile.

Suninen and Neuville were disputing second place on the final day in Chile, free to fight each other but reminded to bring both cars home on the podium.

But early on the penultimate stage, Suninen nibbled the inside of a right-hander and found a tree stump which immediately broke his i20 N Rally1’s steering.

As a result he struggled to make it round the subsequent left-hand corner, slid helplessly down a ditch and out of the rally.

But everything Suninen had done up to that point had been deeply impressive – grabbing his first Rally1 stage win on Friday afternoon to briefly lead the rally, and then dealing superbly with the extremely abrasive conditions on Saturday on what was his first time on Pirelli’s hard-compound tire for Rally1 cars.

Neuville feels the potential the Finn showed points to him having a “very promising future” – so much so that the Belgian said it twice!

He told DirtFish: “It was a difficult weekend for the team. Obviously both team-mates went off the road. But we all know how crucial and hard rallying can be. I mean we saw that with me back in Rally Greece a few weeks back while leading the rally, so that’s part of the game.

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“However, we have to mention the good performance. Teemu was doing a really, really good job, and showed some great speed. So that was very promising, I think, for him in his career. So it was good to see.”

Fielding a different question about how hard-fought his own second place was, Neuville added: “The target was P2, but not that way to be honest, because Teemu was doing a really, really good job.

“I think it’s definitely promising for his further career showing the speed he’s showed on the last few events he did with us. So it was good to see.

“Disappointed for him, but we all know, and I know as well how harsh it can be sometimes rallying.”


Suninen will contest Central European Rally later this month before Dani Sordo returns to competitive action for the final round in Japan.

But neither driver’s place within Hyundai’s lineup is secure, as it has poached 2019 world champion Ott Tänak from M-Sport to partner Neuville for a full season.

Asked if he would like to see Suninen in the team next year, Neuville stressed: “It’s not my decision and I’m not making driver lineups.” But he added: “He has done a couple of rallies and he has shown great performances.”

Team principal Cyril Abiteboul has said that Hyundai will “take some time to strategically consider our full lineup for next season”.