The silver lining in Suninen’s powerstage disaster

Teemu Suninen threw away a near-certain WRC2 win in Portugal – yet Hyundai still has cause for optimism

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Everything was looking good for Hyundai’s Teemu Suninen before he crashed on the final stage of Rally Portugal.

He held a comfortable lead in WRC2 until the powerstage, ending up off the road and in the trees. His class victory hopes were left in tatters mere minutes away from the rally finish.

But it wasn’t entirely negative for Hyundai on the WRC2 front.

Suninen was the class of the field all weekend in WRC2 – up until that final stage – and by the end of the penultimate stage, his lead was up to 57.4 seconds.

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There’s no denying his Hyundai i20 N Rally2 was fast, a surprise given Škoda and Andreas Mikkelsen’s recent domination of the class.

Suninen had led early on until a double puncture set him back almost a minute, then gained it back when Mikkelsen’s Fabia Rally2 evo suffered an engine fault that forced the reigning WRC2 champion to retire.

Although Hyundai’s deputy team director Julien Moncet was naturally unhappy with the final-stage crash, he took some satisfaction from Suninen’s pace.

“The target was really to show the performance of the Hyundai i20 N Rally2 here,” Moncet told DirtFish.

“We showed it, I think it has been really consistent, sometimes ahead most of the race so it’s very positive for us, for the brand, for the customers.

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“It’s a bit of a shame to destroy everything on the last stage where honestly there was not so much to win.”

It wasn’t just Suninen who had the pace. Oliver Solberg suffered a number of issues in Portugal but despite that, he still claimed three stage victories, showcasing the potential in the car.

“The pace is there but we definitely still have a lot of work to do to be properly there and consistent,” said Solberg.

“Mikkelsen was very fast this weekend, so without his engine problem, it would be not so easy.

“I mean we have to be very realistic and still work, but OK the team did a good job and unfortunately what happened on the last stage that’s part of life.

“But I was never here to try to push for the win anyway, but at least I did some good stages and that’s the most important.”

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Despite the rush that Hyundai was in to complete its Rally1 contender in time for the start of the 2022 season, its Rally2 car has continued its development, with a new package of updates bolted to the works cars in Portugal.

The engine has been prioritized on the Rally2 car after Hyundai received some customer complaints, but Moncet now believes the car is on a more even keel with its rivals.

“We work on the suspension and on the engine,” said the Hyundai team principal. “These have been the main things we have worked on, which were on the engine side a bit of a complaint from our first customers.

“So we have worked hard on it with mapping and so on. It has been done in-house this time. That’s something new.


“It’s really good to show that our car was really competitive and ahead of our competitors.

“Once again it’s really a shame that everything was destroyed in the last stage as most of the people will remember the final result and maybe not the rest of the rally.”