After a podium in two of his first three events, Jari Huttunen probably arrived to Rally Estonia last weekend with the aim of clinching yet another top-three result. Especially since he was driving an updated M-Sport Ford Fiesta Rally2.
But things didn’t quite go as planned.
Everything looked good on Thursday’s opening superspecial stage, winning the 1.03-mile test by half a second. But by the end of the rally he was fourth in class, 3m27s down on winner Andreas Mikkelsen.
M-Sport introduced a number of updates for Estonia, in the hope it would keep Huttunen in the hunt for a World Rally Championship-2 victory. These updates included new aerodynamics on the rear wing and wing mirrors to aid efficiency and create more downforce, while a new rear suspension package – featuring enhanced crossmember and suspension arms – were added to help the handling.
Despite these updates, however, small issues with the car on Friday prevented that plan from becoming a reality.
Nevertheless, M-Sport’s WRC team principal Richard Millener was encouraged by how the updates performed on the car.
“The feedback on suspension and the gravel setup is just the main changes we’ve done, [and it] is very positive,” Millener explained to DirtFish.
“But we seem to have had a couple of little issues with the car on the Friday, which are unrelated to the new parts. It’s just put us back a little bit.
“As soon as you get to that point where you’re not in the top five it’s very hard to continue.”
The updates were only fitted to Huttunen’s car in Estonia and, although he didn’t have the cleanest of rallies, when the car was issue free, his pace was strong.
And it’s that pace which gives M-Sport confidence that Huttunen can be fighting for victories later in the year, although it won’t be in Finland as Huttunen will be driving a Rally1 car for the first time on his home event.
“We can take some positives from the times and the feedback we got,” said Millener.
“But being competitive once again in WRC2 here, if you have any kind of issue at all then you’re not going to be fighting for a victory.
“It didn’t quite happen this weekend.”