M-Sport Ford World Rally Team’s Teemu Suninen and Jarmo Lehtinen may not have been in the fight for the top results at this weekend’s Neste Rally Finland, but persevered to bring their EcoBoost-powered Ford Fiesta WRC home in eighth place.
As the fastest round in the FIA World Rally Championship, the Finnish fixture demands perfection; and with the competition as close as it is at the moment, nothing short of absolute confidence behind the wheel will do.
Despite driving well, the young Finn missed that perfect feeling this weekend and his confidence suffered as a result. But working through some solutions with the team, he gradually improved his pace and made it through all of the stages to safeguard M‑Sport’s unbroken record of consecutive points finishes.
Elsewhere Gus Greensmith was delivering another solid performance on only his second outing with the top-specification Fiesta. Like Suninen, the Brit was missing some confidence but kept his team mate honest and was on course to secure a top-ten finish – before some confusion over a pacenote brought his rally to an untimely end on the first pass of Ruuhimäki (SS21).
Team Principal, Richard Millener, said:
“This hasn’t been our event, but we’ll come back stronger in Germany. I don’t think we’re far off the pace, but this is a rally where you need total confidence to push the limits and Teemu just hasn’t had that this weekend. It’s hard for him not to be challenging for the top results at his home rally, but we know what he’s capable of – he has the speed and we’ll come back fighting.
“Gus was delivering another solid performance on only his second time in a world rally car – and keeping Teemu honest in the process! He had a tough day opening the road yesterday, but he got the experience he needed and was on course for a good finish. It’s a real shame what happened today, but it’s all part of the learning game.”
Teemu Suninen (8th) said:
“It’s always fun driving in Finland, but it’s been frustrating to look at the times this weekend. We know that we have the pace, but this wasn’t our weekend. We weren’t able to challenge for the top positions, and have some homework to do before the next one”.
Gus Greensmith (DNF) said:
“I thought I heard a pacenote that I knew I didn’t have in that stage [Ruuhimäki, SS21]. At that point I got distracted, tried to read the road, and then missed the braking for a sharp left. I tried to pull it round, but hit the tree and took the wheel off. It’s disappointing, but Elliott [Edmondson, co-driver] and myself are both okay which is obviously the most important thing.”
1. Ott Tänak / Martin Järveoja (Toyota Yaris WRC) 2:30:40.3
2. Esapekka Lappi / Janne Ferme (Citroen C3 WRC): +25.6
3. Jari-Matti Latvala / Miikka Anttila (Toyota Yaris WRC) +33.2
4. Andreas Mikkelsen / Anders Jaeger (Hyundai i20 Coupe WRC) +53.4
5. Sébastien Ogier / Julien Ingrassia (Citroen C3 WRC) +56.1
6. Thierry Neuville / Nicolas Gilsoul (Hyundai i20 Coupe WRC) +1:32.4
7. Craig Breen / Paul Nagle (Hyundai i20 Coupe WRC) +1:38.2
8. Teemu Suninen / Jarmo Lehtinen (Ford Fiesta WRC) +2:33.8