It’s not often that a Finn relishes the chance to swap the big, fast, wide roads native to rallying’s spiritual homeland for the tight, twisty, technical, slow, dusty and rocky ones coming to the World Rally Championship this week.
M-Sport Ford World Rally Team drivers Esapekka Lappi and Teemu Suninen are in just that position ahead of this week’s Rally Turkey.
The British-based team did not test ahead of Rally Estonia and the Finns found it hard to live life on the limit on the super-quick Tartu roads.
M-Sport elected to save budget and not test ahead of the Marmaris-based fifth round this week either, but the drivers are confident they will be closer to the pace on the slower roads.
“I’m sure this event is easier in terms of coming to slower roads without a test compared to the faster stages,” Lappi told DirtFish.
“It’s somehow more forgiving and the settings from the car don’t need to be 99% correct, if you get 80% of them right then this is OK.
“It’s so rough and slow, you don’t need to use the limits of the car like you do on the really fast stages. The car forgives you a little bit.”
Suninen added: “It’s a big challenge to drive a rally without a test, but on the fast rallies you need to be extremely confident in the car and know the limits.
“Here it’s easier to get closer to the limits without the testing.”
M-Sport’s trio finished Estonia sixth, seventh and eighth, with Suninen leading team-mates Lappi and Gus Greensmith home.
Asked what would represent a good result for M-Sport, team principal Richard Millener said: “Three cars at the finish. We can be strong, there’s no reason why we can’t be looking at top-three stage times.
“There’s a completely different outlook to this rally than we had in Estonia: the drivers are confident and happy, they’ve got notes from last year and a lot of the route is similar. It should be good.”
Suninen’s car starts the event still sporting ripples in the roof following his Estonia shakedown shunt.
M-Sport sought dispensation from the FIA to run the car without changing the roof due to the rapid turnaround time between the two rallies.