Teemu Suninen believes that the uncompromising nature of the Monza Rally stages made it difficult for him to save his World Rally Championship career.
After leaving M-Sport midway through the year, Suninen has been working to ensure that he has a 2022 seat confirmed before January’s Monte Carlo Rally.
And after driving a Hyundai i20 N Rally2 in WRC2 on Rally Spain, the team gave him a lifeline by offering him the absent Ott Tänak’s i20 Coupe WRC for Monza.
Suninen grabbed the opportunity with both hands and went on to finish sixth overall on the rally, earning two top-three stage times along the way. And although he was pleased with his performance, he admits he found it tricky to find the limit of the car at times, especially since he knew that if he were to crash into the circuit stages concrete blocks on the circuit stages, it would “have been the end of the career”.
“I would say it was a good weekend in the end,” explained Suninen.
“It was quite tricky to jump in a new car, especially on this rally when the conditions are quite tricky normally, and you have to know every inch of your car to drive precisely, and as you saw drivers are slightly touching into the barriers and they go this far.
“The risk is quite high to break something if you’re optimistic here, but you have to be close on the limits because fast – and step-by-step we were able to improve the pace.
“In the forest [mountain stages] we were able to set good times and that’s a good thing. And still on the muddy parts, I have to improve my driving and also get the confidence with the car.”
While there are other rallies Suninen would have preferred to have started with Hyundai, there was no way he was going to turn down the opportunity, and he hopes he can be a part of the Rally2 project going forward.
“I’d have preferred Finland or Spain, but when we got the opportunity to come here we couldn’t say no,” Suninen said.
“Even that’s maybe the biggest rally for me, ever, with Monte Carlo.
“I would say with Hyundai, their R5 project they want to develop the car and they could for customers.
“That’s the main target, and then you never know. If some seat opens there, I want to be ready to jump there.”
Whatever he would have done, everyone would have been ready to dig the grave for himAndrea Adamo
Hyundai team principal Andrea Adamo was impressed with the way Suninen handled himself despite the difficult conditions at Monza.
And although he’s not sure whether Suninen will be involved in the Rally2 project, Adamo is understanding of Suninen’s current situation and is keen to work with him in the future.
“He was in a s*** position because he’d just jumped here with one day testing, and in this situation and rally that is very difficult,” Adamo said.
“Let me say, let’s also try to walk in his own shoes a moment. We knew he had a difficult end of previous relationship, and he was jumping again in WRC.
“Whatever he would have done, everyone would have been ready to dig the grave for him and say it like this. It’s why I try to always hug him and tell him nice words and things like this, because I was scared that he would already put himself under too much pressure.
“So I always tried to support him, I always tried to tell him ‘hey, no problem’, nice and calm.
“Also, when he did bad at times, I said ‘hey, no problem. Let’s try to understand, compare the data to the others’.
“At the end he finished sixth, in front of many other people and I let you finish the end of the sentence.”