M-Sport Ford World Rally Team’s Teemu Suninen and Gus Greensmith had a tough start to this weekend’s Neste Rally Finland – the youngest team in the FIA World Rally Championship currently holding ninth and tenth places respectively.
As the fastest event in the FIA World Rally Championship, every tenth of a second counts and everything has to be perfect to challenge for the top results – a statement which could not be truer this weekend.
Having lost some of the aerodynamic aids from his EcoBoost-powered Ford Fiesta WRC, Suninen was disadvantaged through the morning loop. But the young Finn still wasn’t where he wanted to be this afternoon and will work hard with his engineers to gain back some time tomorrow.
Making his second appearance behind the wheel of the top-specification Fiesta, Greensmith knew that the learning curve would be as big as the jumps here in Finland. But the young Brit has already shown great progress – increasing his speed and confidence with every kilometre.
Team Principal, Richard Millener, said:
“It’s been a tough day for the team, and when you’re slightly off the pace in Finland it shows. But we’ve got two young and ambitious guys who want to be faster, and we’ll be working to do exactly that as the weekend continues.
“It’s hard for Teemu not to be in the fight – especially on home soil and having come off the back of such a strong result in Sardinia. He lost some aero which put him on the back foot this morning, but he’s still not where he wants to be and we need to work on putting that right.
“Gus has had a really strong day to be fair. This is only his second time in a world rally and he’s approached the challenge exactly as he should. He’s delivered a sensible drive, steadily increased his speed and really wasn’t too far off the pace at the end of the day.”
Teemu Suninen (9th) said:
“It’s really hard for a Finn when they’re not fast in Finland, and it’s been a really disappointing day for us. The driving feels good, but we are struggling to find the pace. In the past I have been beating Ogier and Tänak in the same car, so I know I can be fast here. But we are missing something this weekend, and need to do our homework and try to be faster.”
Gus Greensmith (10th) said:
“I can’t say today wasn’t enjoyable – it was amazing – but the learning curve was as big as the jumps – massive! Obviously we started off quite cautiously in the morning and the times weren’t really where we wanted them to be. I managed to be there or thereabouts with my team-mate in the afternoon which was really good, but there seems to be a big gap to those further ahead. We’ll try a few different things tomorrow, and I’m sure the time will come to us.”
1. Jari-Matti Latvala / Miikka Anttila (Toyota Yaris WRC) 1:04:01.1
2. Kris Meeke / Sebastian Marshall (Toyota Yaris WRC) +1.2
3. Esapekka Lappi / Janne Ferme (Citroen C3 WRC) +2.4
4. Ott Tänak / Martin Järveoja (Toyota Yaris WRC) +2.6
5. Craig Breen / Paul Nagle (Hyundai i20 Coupe WRC) +14.2
6. Andreas Mikkelsen / Anders Jaeger (Hyundai i20 Coupe WRC) +14.6
7. Sébastien Ogier / Julien Ingrassia (Citroen C3 WRC) +15.3
8. Thierry Neuville / Nicolas Gilsoul (Hyundai i20 Coupe WRC) +30.9
9. Teemu Suninen / Jarmo Lehtinen (Ford Fiesta WRC) +52.6
10. Gus Greensmith / Elliott Edmondson (Ford Fiesta WRC) +1:38.3