Jari Huttunen hopes to remain with M-Sport in the World Rally Championship next season but doesn’t have “any news or any facts” regarding his 2022 plans.
Huttunen has driven Hyundais – both inside and out of its official line-up – for the past four seasons of his career but jumped into an M-Sport Ford Fiesta Rally2 on the Monza Rally and duly won the WRC2 class.
Hyundai team principal Andrea Adamo and M-Sport team principal Richard Millener are both known to be interested in Huttunen’s services next year, but currently nothing is in place with either team – even if Huttunen has his preference.
“I hope I go in M-Sport, but I don’t know,” he told DirtFish. “We will see what will happen, but I don’t have any news or any facts.”
Asked how he found the performance of the Fiesta Rally2, Huttunen added: “I think it’s much closer than what I was thinking when I was coming [to Monza].
“I’d heard it was so bad but it’s actually not that bad. It’s a little bit different to drive than others, so I have to change my driving style, but it’s not so bad.”
Millener was suitably pleased with Huttunen’s Monza performance, saying “it was very positive considering how little time he had in the car”.
“I think Jari’s a really nice guy, he’s been really easy to integrate into the team, and prove that he has the performance as well to put his case forward to be part of the team,” Millener added.
Huttunen isn’t the only candidate M-Sport is considering as it is keen to have a title-challenging driver in its Fiesta next season.
Asked if the team had a long list of candidates, Millener said the list is “not huge, but there’s a couple of options that we’re looking at”.
“I think we need to consider where we are in terms of the budget we have available to run our own team as well,” he continued. “And just consider what events we should pick and choose which events would be best for us for example to go to.
“We need to have a bit of a strategy on that at the moment, because we’ve kind of been so focused on 2022 [Rally1] and everything going on there that we probably need to spend time on looking at that element as well.”
But although Huttunen appears to be pinning his hopes on competing with M-Sport next year, Adamo indicated after Monza that he has had no communication from the 27-year-old to suggest that he has left the stable.
“I’m still waiting for him to call me to tell me he’s not a Hyundai driver anymore,” Adamo said last month, when asked by DirtFish if Huttunen could come back to Hyundai in the future.
Pressed if Huttunen would be seen in an i20 in 2022, Adamo reiterated “I don’t know” before saying he could not completely rule out the possibility.
“I’m too old to use the word never. And I see things in my life, of people saying, ‘this will never happen, I will never do, in my life I will never’, and after a few years of doing it I saw people shouting out at each other louder, metaphorically knife each other, and then working together again because they smell the possibility of profit for [the] boss.
“[Juha] Kankunnen left Lancia and came back and then became world champion. I know motorsport history, and world history. Too much, because I love history. There’s never a ‘never, ever’.
“If a mutual interest will match one day, I’m not one to say no to someone. I’m no-one. I’m here to make the best interests of Hyundai. And my personal problems, my personal feeling, is the least I can consider to manage the team.”