M-Sport Ford World Rally Team’s EcoBoost-powered Ford Fiesta WRCs had the pace but not the luck at this weekend’s ADAC Rallye Deutschland – Teemu Suninen having the speed to challenge for the podium were it not for an unfortunate technical issue through the early stages.
A broken wire on the first stage of Friday morning was the culprit – denying the young Finn any chance of challenging for the top results. But having restarted the following day, he and co‑driver Jarmo Lehtinen were determined to showcase what might have been.
Posting a series of top times, the Finns were consistently amongst the front runners and would have been challenging for the podium were it not for their earlier misfortune. Continuing their strong performance into the final day of competition, they ended on a high by setting the second fastest time through the points-paying Power Stage.
Gus Greensmith and Elliott Edmondson were also delivering a strong drive and improving with every kilometre. Making their asphalt debut with the top-specification Fiesta, the young Brits got closer to the leading times and were outperforming a number of their more experienced rivals on occasion.
Saturday proved a trickier day with a mistake in the morning and much to learn on their first encounter with the Panzerplatte stages, but they persevered – showcasing their mechanical skills by changing a steering arm on the road section and continuing to gain the vital knowledge and experience needed to succeed at rallying’s highest level.
Team Principal, Richard Millener, said:
“It’s great to see that we had the speed to challenge for the podium, but obviously fairly frustrating that we had an issue so early on. We knew from the test how much potential Teemu would have here, and he’s proven that over the past couple of days. It’s a shame not to get the result he deserved, but he can still take a lot of confidence away from this weekend.
“Gus also delivered another strong performance and is getting a lot of experience under his belt. This was his first time with a world rally car on Tarmac, and we saw him get a lot closer to the leaders – beating some more experienced guys through some stages and even equalling the World Champion on one!
“He knows that there’s still a lot to learn, but we’ve seen some great progress already. Considering how little time he’s had in the car it really is incredible how calm he is and how well he deals with the pressure. I certainly hope we can continue his development over the remainder of the season.”
Gus Greensmith (9th) said:
“It’s been an awesome weekend, and I was pleasantly surprised by how quickly we were able to get on the pace. We were never right at the front, but we were mixing it with the likes of Mikkelsen and Lappi. They have a lot more experience, so for our first time on Tarmac I’d say that was pretty good.
“The time was there, but we still need to improve the consistency – and once we do that it will make our lives a lot easier. It was a really positive weekend and the only real negative was clipping a tree on Saturday – but that did give me some practice at changing a steering arm!”
Teemu Suninen (Restarted) said:
“It’s not the result we wanted, but I’m still really pleased with our performance and my pace was even better than I had expected. My aim was to finish in the top-five, but actually it looks as though it could even have been enough to fight for the podium.
“The technical issue on Friday means we don’t take any strong points away from this weekend, but I think our second fastest time on the Power Stage says a lot about our pace. I was really pleased with that and really enjoyed my driving – so that’s a big positive for the future.”