Tänak and Suninen learn lots in Lõuna-Eesti

M-Sport and Hyundai sent Rally1 cars to Estonia for Ott Tänak and Teemu Suninen to test on fast gravel

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Saturday was a voyage of discovery for Ott Tänak and Teemu Suninen as they tackled the Lõuna-Eesti Ralli a fortnight out from Estonia’s round of the World Rally Championship.

Based out of Haanja in the country’s south-east corner, the 42-mile event provided a perfect test format with nine stages split into three identical loops with service following each.

Tänak last competed and won Lõuna-Eesti Ralli in 2020 when the then world champion was finding his feet on fast gravel in a Hyundai i20 Coupe WRC. This time he was doing the same in a Ford Puma Rally1 Hybrid.

Tänak and Suninen tested the day prior to the event and finished one-two respectively. The Estonian won all nine stages to lead Suninen, making his competitive debut in a Rally1 car, home by 38 seconds.

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With dry and dusty conditions giving way to heavy rain at times, Tänak admitted the weather and the roads provided an accurate and worthwhile test for what lies ahead next week.

For Suninen, the event provided valuable seat time in stage mode.

“We learned a lot,” he said. “That was really good preparation for the rally. I got a good feeling and good preparation for the car. For [Rally] Estonia, it will be tough to match the pace of the top guys, but to be close would be enough.”

Predictably, the Rally1 pair were comfortably ahead of their nearest Rally2 competition. Rising Estonian star Robert Virves was third in a Ford Fiesta Rally2.