Suninen tests Hyundai Rally1 car

Hyundai is considering Suninen for a shared third seat for the remainder of the year

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Teemu Suninen tested a Hyundai i20 N Rally1 for the second time on Thursday.

Team principal Cyril Abiteboul moved quickly to dispel speculation that the 29-year-old’s deal to drive the squad’s third car was already done.

Abiteboul told DirtFish: “We can confirm Teemu is testing in Finland in the Hyundai i20 N Rally1 Hybrid. Due to his knowledge of the terrain and the type of stages, it is natural that we give him some seat time in the car as part of our development program for the i20 N Rally1 Hybrid.”

Expanding on Suninen’s presence at the test alongside full-time factory drivers Thierry Neuville and Esapekka Lappi, Abiteboul added: “Teemu is part of our pool of drivers we can call on due to his WRC2 program and this is not his first experience in the car, he has driven it previously in development testing.

“We know there have been rumors surrounded the plan with our third car for the rest of the season. Of course, Teemu is one of the drivers we are potentially looking to add to our line-up, but we are not in a position to confirm anything at this moment on time.”

The third seat – shared with Dani Sordo – became available after Craig Breen was killed in a testing accident in Croatia.

Talking to DirtFish earlier this month, Suninen said: “It’s 50:50 [chance to get the drive].”

He was also quick to point to his record on the World Rally Championship’s high-speed summer events – the rallies where Sordo won’t compete.

“On fast rallies,” Suninen said, “no people beaten me with the same car in Finland or Estonia.”

Suninen tested the hybrid i20 for the first time last season.

Words:David Evans