M-Sport Ford World Rally Team’s Teemu Suninen and Jarmo Lehtinen challenged for the podium positions throughout this weekend’s Rally Turkey. Showcasing the speed and strength of their EcoBoost-powered Ford Fiesta WRC, the Finns secured a strong fourth place overall.
Combining speed and maturity in an intelligent drive, the young Finn had brought the podium to within less than 10 seconds and had every intention of mounting a challenge through today’s closing kilometres.
But when he lost some of the aerodynamics from the rear of his Fiesta, he could no longer push the limits and opted to safeguard another strong result.
Taking a solid haul of points for another fourth place finish, Suninen now finds himself in the middle of an intense seven-way battle for fourth place in the championship – and has every chance of challenging over the season’s remaining three events.
Making his gravel debut with the top-specification Fiesta this weekend, Pontus Tidemand had much to learn but took a sensible approach into the roughest event of the year.
Completing all of the stages unscathed, the Swede secured the experience that is so vital to his future development and gained a wealth of knowledge ahead of his next outing at Wales Rally GB in three weeks’ time.
Team Principal, Richard Millener, said:
“Teemu delivered a really strong drive and it’s great to see how far he’s come over the past year. He had the pace this weekend, but he also showed a real maturity and it was particularly good to see how well he managed the tyres on Saturday afternoon. He’s in the battle for fourth place in the championship now, and if he carries on like this there’s no reason why he can’t fight for it.
“Pontus also had a good weekend and this was his first gravel rally with the Ford Fiesta WRC. He had a lot to learn and it wasn’t easy opening the road, but he got the experience under his belt and it was great to see him getting more and more comfortable behind the wheel. He’s got something to build on ahead of Wales Rally GB, and I’m looking forward to seeing how he progresses there.”
Teemu Suninen (4th) said:
“This has been a good weekend for us. I think we had the right balance between showing good pace and driving well through the stages without any mistakes or problems. And I think we made a really big step forward from where we were last year – with the pace but also with managing the tyres so that was really good to see. A big thanks to the mechanics also because they had a lot of work to do on the car this weekend.”
Pontus Tidemand (9th) said:
“This was my first gravel rally with the Fiesta WRC, and actually my first proper gravel rally this year, so I would say that it has been a good weekend for us. The car and the team were working really well and I would say like to say a big thanks to them and to everyone who has supported me so far this year.
“In the last two stages yesterday and also today I felt I had quite a good feeling with the car and was starting to understand a lot more. Okay there was a lot of cleaning and we had to open the road for much of the event, but we have the experience now and can work on looking where to improve for the next one.”
1. Sébastien Ogier / Julien Ingrassia (Citroen C3 WRC) 3:50:12.1
2. Esapekka Lappi / Janne Ferme (Citroen C3 WRC) +34.7
3. Andreas Mikkelsen / Anders Jaeger (Hyundai i20 Coupe WRC) +1:04.5
4. Teemu Suninen / Jarmo Lehtinen (Ford Fiesta WRC) +1:35.1
5. Dani Sordo / Carlos del Barrio (Hyundai i20 Coupe WRC) +2:25.9
6. Jari-Matti Latvala / Miikka Anttila (Toyota Yaris WRC) +2:59.1
7. Kris Meeke / Sebastian Marshall (Toyota Yaris WRC) +3:53.3
8. Thierry Neuville / Nicolas Gilsoul (Hyundai i20 Coupe WRC) +5:34.8
9. Pontus Tidemand / Ola Fløene (Ford Fiesta WRC) +7:22.9
10. Gus Greensmith / Elliott Edmondson (Ford Fiesta R5 Mk II) +15:18.7