M-Sport Ford World Rally Team’s Teemu Suninen and Jarmo Lehtinen have the ability to fight for top positions at this weekend’s Rally Turkey – and have already showcased the speed and strength of their EcoBoost-powered Ford Fiesta WRC on one of the toughest events of the year.
Combining their pace with an intelligent drive, the pairing delivered a consistently strong performance and were in contention for the top results before a torrential downpour halted their charge – two seconds adrift of the podium and less than 15 seconds shy of the lead before the second pass of Çetibeli (SS6).
Having nothing but the hard compound tyre for the 38.15 kilometre stage, the Finns had to deal with some treacherously slippery conditions but kept their cool to maintain fourth place overall – albeit now 44.4 seconds adrift of the lead.
Returning to the wheel of the top-specification Fiesta, Pontus Tidemand and co-driver Ola Fløene were quick out of the box and showed the young Swede’s potential with the third fastest time through last night’s opening Super Special.
Hitting the gravel this morning they picked up a puncture through the first stage (SS2), but maintained focus and continue to gain the vital knowledge and experience needed to progress at this level.
Team Principal, Richard Millener, said:
“We felt Teemu had what it takes to challenge for the podium this weekend, and he’s proven that today. We know how quick he is, but this event requires more than that and he’s shown a real maturity. Even when the weather worked against him this afternoon, he kept his cool and maintained his fourth place. There’s still a long way to go, but there’s also a lot still to fight for.
“Pontus has also been really focused today. He gave everyone a taste of his speed and potential yesterday evening, but today was all about getting the experience under his belt which is so important at this stage in his career. He’s learning with every kilometre and showing some real progress with some promising split times – so he just needs to keep doing what he’s doing.”
Teemu Suninen (4th) said:
“I think it’s been a pretty good day for us and the car is working well. It’s always difficult to find the right balance between being fast and being careful here, but I think we’re doing okay. There are so many loose stones out there that you have to keep a margin to try and avoid the punctures.
“I don’t want to set myself too high a target right now as I’m happy with the rhythm we have and think we have a good balance. But there is still a long way to go and of course anything can still happen.”
Pontus Tidemand (10th) said:
“It was really tricky for everyone today, but good for me to get the experience. We had a puncture on the first stage, but apart from that it was a really clean run.
“The pace at the front was really high and for sure the top guys are pushing a lot, but we can already see in some sections that we are getting closer – which is what we need to focus on.
“We’ll be first on the road tomorrow, but in a way that will be nice as it means we won’t have to experience the big ruts that we had today – and I’m looking forward to that.”
1. Esapekka Lappi / Janne Ferme (Citroen C3 WRC) 1:59:53.7
2. Sébastien Ogier / Julien Ingrassia (Citroen C3 WRC) +17.7
3. Thierry Neuville / Nicolas Gilsoul (Hyundai i20 Coupe WRC) +18.4
4. Teemu Suninen / Jarmo Lehtinen (Ford Fiesta WRC) +44.4
5. Andreas Mikkelsen / Anders Jaeger (Hyundai i20 Coupe WRC) +1:04.1
6. Dani Sordo / Carlos del Barrio (Hyundai i20 Coupe WRC) +1:25.2
7. Kris Meeke / Sebastian Marshall (Toyota Yaris WRC) +1:32.1
8. Ott Tänak / Martin Järveoja (Toyota Yaris WRC) +1:37.4
9. Jari-Matti Latvala / Miikka Anttila (Toyota Yaris WRC) +1:42.5
10. Pontus Tidemand / Ola Fløene (Ford Fiesta WRC) +3:45.4