Kankkunen optimistic after Hyundai test

Finnish rally legend Juha Kankkunen is optimistic about his chances on next month's Rally Finland after testing the Hyundai Accent WRC that he will be guest driving on the high-speed event, earlier this week

Kankkunen optimistic after Hyundai test

Kankkunen, who has won the Finnish rally three times, has been drafted in by the MSD-run Hyundai team to take advantage of both the four-time world champion's experience and also his local knowledge of the Finnish terrain.

The 42-year-old tested the latest evolution of the Accent WRC, which was introduced on Rally Portugal in March this year, for the first time on the popular test roads close to Mikkeli in Finland.

"I was genuinely surprised at how good the car is," said Kankkunen. "Considering it is still very new and in the early stages of its development, it is a great package. With enough time and money to invest, it will become excellent and definitely has the potential to be competitive.

"Throughout the test we tried and tested everything so we could get to know the Accents' limits and differences, and I am very happy with the set-up we'll be starting the rally with."

The Accent has shown flashes of pace since its introduction, but regular drivers Alister McRae and Kenneth Eriksson have had various reliability worries and both cars failed to finish last time out in Greece. Co-driver Juha Repo believes Kankkunen's smoother style should suit the Accent.

"Juha's driving style is very different to that of Kenneth [Eriksson] and Alister [McRae]," said Repo. "It's a bit smoother and less aggressive. Once we had made some changes to suit that style, the car really began working for us. Now we are looking forward to seeing just how competitive we can be in it."

McRae and Eriksson will be competing alongside Kankkunen in Finland and it will be the duo's first competitive outing for more than two months, as the Hyundai team opted not to compete in last weekend's gruelling Safari Rally.

McRae completed two day's of running in Finland before Kankkunen took over and Eriksson is in the car today (Thursday) and on Friday.

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