Teemu Suninen believes he could be “helpful” to Hyundai on certain rallies of next year’s World Rally Championship.
Hyundai currently has just one driver, Thierry Neuville, confirmed for 2023 after it elected not to renew Oliver Solberg’s contract and then Ott Tänak decided to walk away from his own agreement one year early just hours after the conclusion of Rally Spain.
Hyundai’s other 2022 driver, Dani Sordo, could well remain with the team for a 10th consecutive season, but it would not be a full-time deal.
Speculation, therefore, is rife as to who will fill Hyundai’s lineup next year. Andreas Mikkelsen is a strong contender, but Hyundai could have a ready-made solution lying within its ranks already.
Suninen has been with the brand for over a year now and has already driven for it at the top level when he deputized for the absent Tänak on the 2021 Monza Rally, finishing sixth overall.
This season, the former M-Sport driver has been plying his trade in WRC2 and grabbed his first victory of the season in comfortable fashion on last weekend’s Rally Spain.
Inevitably, Suninen has designs on a Rally1 drive next year and his manager, Timo Jouhki, was spotted talking to Hyundai team manager Pablo Marcos when the service park was being packed away last Sunday.
“It’s really hard to say,” Suninen told DirtFish when asked what he could say about next year and whether he’d still be with Hyundai.
“I would be happy to continue, especially if we can do work in Rally1.
“Also, in Rally2, if Hyundai is continuing with the project, for me we have done a good job this year to make the car [be at] a winning pace and I think it would be clever to continue the project and be on the top with that car also.”
Questions have been raised surrounding Hyundai’s WRC2 program given the cars are currently run by RedGrey – a team co-owned by Markko Märtin and Tänak who will leave Hyundai at the end of 2022.
Suninen would represent a good option for Hyundai’s third car though, potentially to partner Sordo on events that don’t particularly suit the WRC veteran.
“I’m pretty confident in a few rallies I’d be a good package or helpful for a few rallies,” Suninen said.
“Like Estonia and Finland, there are no drivers who have won with the same car [against me].
“So, I think I could bring some points for the team. We will see what is happening for next year.”