Suninen felt “at home” in first Hyundai WRC test

Teemu Suninen drove an i20 Coupe WRC for the first time last Friday ahead of next weekend's Monza Rally

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Teemu Suninen has told DirtFish he felt immediately at home aboard the Hyundai i20 Coupe WRC he will drive at next week’s Monza Rally when he tested last week.

Suninen was confirmed as a stand-in for Ott Tänak last Tuesday following Tänak’s decision to witghdraw from the final WRC round of the season for personal reasons. Suninen drove the Hyundai for a day in Italy on Friday.

Prior to his running in the car, he spent time with Thierry Neuville as he went through his preparations for the November 19-21 event.

“Honestly, I was surprised how fast I got a really good feeling from the car,” Suninen said.

“It felt pretty easy to drive. It was good to be at Thierry’s test, to follow what he was doing with the car.”

After almost five years with M-Sport Ford, the i20 was the first non-Fiesta World Rally Car Suninen had driven.

“It’s not fair to make a comparison with the Fiesta,” he said. “I drove the Ford for a lot of years and the i20 for just one day.

“Like I said, I felt the chance to be at home in the car very quickly. It was really nice handling.

“There wasn’t so much time to work on all aspects and scenarios for the set-up; for the center differential I went with the options what the other drivers have and this felt good.

“With just a day to test, we cannot fine-tune things completely for me – I know I have to adapt a little bit with the car, but I’m looking forward to doing that.”

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Like all of the factory drivers, Suninen’s testing for the season finale took place on the mountain stages. He’s hoping to get his eye in on the Monza circuit early.

“The circuit stages are a bit more like the street stages,” he said. “Hopefully in the shakedown for the event there will be some really tight hairpins where I can learn exactly where are the corners of the car.

“You have to be really precise in these places, you have to be just centimeters from the barriers. You can gain a lot of time if you are like this, but on the other side these [concrete] blocks are not moving and you can easily take a corner from the car and lose the rally.”

Suninen and Neuville will be joined in the Hyundai Motorsport fold by Dani Sordo next weekend while Oliver Solberg will compete for 2C Competition.

Words:David Evans