Suninen: WRC podium return eases pressure

Ending a run of bad results has lessened the pressure


M-Sport Ford driver Teemu Suninen admitted third place on Rally México was a huge relief given the pressure on him after his disappointing run in Sweden.

Unnerved by a high-speed moment on the shakedown, Suninen was an off-the-pace eighth on round two of the 2020 World Rally Championshop.

The 26-year-old Finn, contesting his third full season in WRC machinery and fourth with M-Sport, didn’t win any stages in México but ran in second place on the leaderboard from SS3 to the penultimate gravel stage, SS17.

A costly error over a ridge on the second run through Derramadero lost him that spot to Ott Tänak, and the loss of one of the brakes on his Fiesta WRC afforded him little chance to recover it.

Despite that, Suninen was happy to a add a third podium of his career in addition to last year’s second place in Sardinia and third place on Rally Portugal in 2018 – and to break a podium-less running going back nine months.

“I’m really thankful for what I was able to do,” said Suninen.

“After Sweden, it didn’t look very good, and bosses were asking [for] some more pace.

“Then I switched the switch and I was able to be back on the good pace so I can be happy for this.”

In the first two rallies of the season Suninen had finished eighth twice, but is now the top M-Sport driver in the points after team-mate Esapekka Lappi’s fiery exit in México.

“It was a really good drive for me, and the main thing was to be really consistent and stay away from the problems,” Suninen added.

“All the time we kept in mind that the rally’s not finished yet, we still have some stages to go and anything can happen, as we saw like a few technical issues.”

Now he’s returned to the podium, could he be pushing for M-Sport’s first win since Sébastien Ogier’s 2018 Wales Rally GB success in the upcoming rallies?

“I think the potential is here,” said Suninen when that question was put to him.

“Especially when we get back to my favorite rallies, then we have a good chance for the rally win maybe.

“This rally has been really difficult for me in the last years, and it was great that I was able to get a good result here.”

Suninen’s team-mates both had issues, with Lappi’s car catching fire after SS7 and Gus Greensmith losing 10 minutes with a technical issue. But Greensmith recovered with a career-best ninth place.