Teemu Suninen believes Hyundai’s i20N Rally2 can match the pace of category benchmark Škoda, but not unless he and the team raise their level slightly.
Suninen is leading Hyundai’s attack on the WRC2 championship this year, but his campaign got off to a disappointing start when he finished sixth on Rally Sweden, having been running in the top three on Friday before a technical problem.
Škoda’s new Fabia RS Rally2 has set the pace on the first two rounds of the championship, with Nikolay Gryazin narrowly missing out on Monte Carlo victory after incurring a penalty and Oliver Solberg winning in Sweden.
Škoda had already been the dominant force in WRC2, winning the championship for six of the past seven years. The marque filled four of the top five places in the standings last year, while Suninen was sixth in the points thanks to victory on Rally Spain and finishing second in Estonia and Japan.
But Suninen feels he and Hyundai “had a bit more potential” than what they showed in Sweden
He told DirtFish: “I had a two-day test, and in all the conditions we were not ready for what we faced here.
“Slippy ice – that’s the conditions that we didn’t really face on the tests, but we were able to improve the car already during the rally. So I think it’s not about the big things, we just have to be ready for all the conditions and the things that we are facing in the rallies.”
The pace of the Fabia “looks impressive”, but Suninen said: “I don’t see any reasons why we couldn’t match the pace.
“We showed already on Friday that we were there,” he added, “so it’s just about really small details which we have to be on it and have also full commitment from the driver’s side.”
Suninen’s next event in the car was likely to be Rally Croatia in April, but that has yet to be confirmed.
“Hopefully we can do good development tests and be on the top,” he said. “That’s everyone’s target – my target and also the team’s.
“We really have to be on the top and raise the level slightly from here.”