M-Sport uncomfortable with Hyundai’s Finland testing move

Richard Millener doesn't think his rival's move to Jämsä is in the spirit of cost-saving regulations

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M-Sport team principal Richard Millener hopes the recently introduced World Rally Championship testing regulations are revisited, as he believes Hyundai’s relocation of its testing site to central Finland goes against the spirit of the regulations.

Hyundai reassigned its permanent test site to Jämsä this year, utilizing a road located around an hour south of Toyota’s WRC base on the outskirts of Rally Finland’s host city Jyväskylä.

Testing rules allow Rally1 manufacturer teams to nominate one location in Europe spanning 12 kilometers (7.45 miles) of road as a permanent testing site, plus a separate systems check site with a maximum distance of two kilometers (1.42 miles).

Pre-event testing allocations of one day per driver in the lead-up to European WRC rounds do not count towards tests that take place at permanent test sites.

Millener was quick to acknowledge Germany-based Hyundai’s interpretation of testing rules as clever but also stressed that it went against the cost-saving intentions of said rules – and that M-Sport was not in a position where it could afford to do something similar.

“It makes it more difficult for us but the overall feeling of why the rules are written that way is to control it so nobody goes crazy,” said Millener.

“It’s been seen that Hyundai nominated Finland as their test road, which to be fair to them, is a very clever little loophole that they have. I’m not sure how long that will last because for me that goes a little outside of what the spirit of what the rule was made for.

Millener M-Sport Sweden
It's a very good move by them, thinking outside the box but not something that we could do Richard Milllener

“And that’s to say congratulations to them on doing that because it’s a great little road. But in terms of sustainability and budgets, traveling all the way to Finland every time is not really the most sensible way to be doing things. I think we should re-look at that.

“But even still, to have roads in Finland, it’s still only relevant in a certain amount of scenarios. You’re not going to get good Sardinia testing on a Finland road. So everybody is restricted in the same way and I think that’s the most important thing.”

Hyundai is the only team whose testing site is not within the country where its factory is located: Toyota tests on a forest road outside Jyväskylä, while M-Sport has a private forest in Greystoke, approximately 30 miles away from its Dovenby Hall headquarters in England.

2020 M Sport Rally21st - 22nd August 2020Photo: Drew Gibson

While Millener is not pushing for Hyundai to be prevented from testing in Jämsä for the remainder of 2022, he hopes the rules will be revised ahead of the 2023 season to limit how far Rally1 teams can locate their permanent testing sites away from home base.

“It’s maybe a discussion point towards the end of the year when we look to do regulations for next year,” he said.

“Again, like I say, it’s a very good move by them, thinking outside the box but not something that we could do.

“There’s only so much relevance you can have. That test site for them probably gives them an advantage in Sweden, Finland and Estonia because the roads are quite representative and they’ve got snow at this time of year. But after that, it’s not going to be helpful for any Tarmac roads or anything like that.”


Toyota team principal Jari-Matti Latvala was less concerned about Hyundai’s testing ploy and instead looked at it as a further endorsement of Finland’s importance to the WRC.

“Well, I must say that it’s a very positive thing for Finland that the thinking inside the [Hyundai] team has been keen for a great test venue. Basically now when Toyota and Hyundai is also coming, that side is positive,” said Latvala.

“On the other hand, I can understand that in Germany it is difficult to find gravel roads, especially where they are based, so if you want to focus more on the gravel testing I can understand trying to find a venue somewhere else.

“Yeah of course I was surprised that they were coming to Finland, that was, yes, a big surprise, but I don’t feel… let’s say we have been developing our car and testing in Finland – now if they have their test site [there] it’s not a problem for us.”