Teemu Suninen has told DirtFish he will drive a Hyundai in the World Rally Championship next season, but he isn’t sure which one.
Suninen’s name has been one of several to be connected with one of the vacant Rally1 drives at Hyundai next season.
Since the team decided to split with Oliver Solberg and Ott Tänak decided to split with the team, Hyundai has been in need of new drivers for its top-flight cars.
Currently only Thierry Neuville is confirmed to drive for Hyundai in 2023, although DirtFish understands Esapekka Lappi will move over from Toyota for a full season and Dani Sordo is likely to remain as a part-time driver.
Outgoing WRC2 champion Andreas Mikkelsen, WRC refugee Kris Meeke and M-Sport Ford’s Craig Breen have been linked, but as has Suninen who has spent the year developing and competing in Hyundai’s Rally2 car in WRC2.
Suninen tested the i20 N Rally1 for the first time before traveling to Japan for last weekend’s rally, and hasn’t hidden his desire to take any Rally1 opportunity that may arise.
Asked by DirtFish for an update on his position, Suninen said “nothing is clear” but confirmed he will be driving some sort of Hyundai next season.
“Let’s say I have a seat for sure but not sure if it’s Rally2 or Rally1 or part-time or not,” he said.
“But I think we can confirm we will drive something next year at the world championship level, so that’s at least something.”
Suninen’s contribution in Rally2 has been valued this season and he would be happy to remain with the brand in WRC2. But Suninen’s contribution on his recent Rally1 test in Finland was also valued by Hyundai.
“They were really happy for the work that I did and the experience I have especially from Rally Finland because I have done it many times and I know exactly what are the needs from the car for fast rallies,” Suninen explained.
“And we were pushing the car with the same direction as the current drivers, so that was really positive.”
Should Suninen receive a Rally1 reprieve, fast rallies would be the most obvious events for him to complete as he’s got a good track record on them and Sordo isn’t too comfortable on those style of roads.
Asked if there’s a chance Suninen could be in the i20 N Rally1 for February’s Rally Sweden, he said: “I really wish, that would be my dream. It would be actually my goal, but we have to wait and see what will happen.”
Pressed if things were still being discussed and if there was a possibility Suninen could make his first top-line start since 2021’s Monza Rally next year, he smiled: “They haven’t published yet, let’s say.”
Hyundai is expected to confirm its 2023 driver lineup this week.