Jari Huttunen wins Hyundai's WRC young driver shootout

Hyundai has selected 23-year-old Finn Jari Huttunen for its World Rally Championship driver development programme and will enter him in a programme of 2018 WRC2 rounds in an i20 R5

Huttunen edged Emil Bergkvist, Gus Greensmith, Karl Kruuda, Pepe Lopez, Pierre-Louis Loubet, Rene Mandel and Kalle Rovanpera for the prize after impressing Hyundai representatives on two test stages - one asphalt and one gravel - earlier this month.

"It's obviously a huge honour to be selected as the winning candidate for the Hyundai Motorsport Driver Development programme," said Huttunen, who won WRC2 on only his second four-wheel drive outing at Rally Finland in July.

"There were a lot of very talented drivers involved, with more experience than me, so to be chosen is a nice surprise.

"To be able to draw on the support from such a successful team will allow me to focus fully on my driving and training and continue to improve my performance behind the wheel.

"Though I only had a short time in the New Generation i20 R5 at the test I quickly felt comfortable and was able to push, even in the difficult conditions."

Hyundai Motorsport team manager Alain Penasse praised the standard of all eight drivers, but said Huttunen's pace with such limited four-wheel drive experience had made the difference.

"What stood out about Jari was his determination," said Penasse.

"With only a few starts in an R5 car he had less experience than many of the other candidates, but was immediately competitive and consistent in the New Generation i20 R5 on both the Tarmac and gravel stages.

"He is a clearly a very talented driver, and has enormous potential as a rally driver."

Before then, Huttunen will have to focus his attentions on next week's Rally Liepaja, the final round of this year's European Rally Championship, where he faces a winner-takes-all race against three other drivers for the Junior U27 title.

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