M-Sport's Wilson: Suninen can become as good as WRC leader Tanak

M-Sport believes its current driver Teemu Suninen can mature into as strong a World Rally Championship contender as points leader Ott Tanak

M-Sport's Wilson: Suninen can become as good as WRC leader Tanak

Malcolm Wilson's team famously dropped Tanak from its lead line-up twice during his erratic early years with the team, before he blossomed into a winner in 2017.

He then left for Toyota, where he has led the team's title assault and so far won nine rallies since the start of 2018. Tanak leads the championship by 33 points with four rounds remaining this year and M-Sport is pushing hard to re-sign him for next season.

Suninen, 25, is currently in his second full year in M-Sport's top WRC team having starred in a part-time 2017 programme, but he only has two podium finishes to show for his time in the main squad so far.

"I believe he's got the speed. It's the process we have to go through," said Wilson when asked by Autosport to assess Suninen's performance this year.

"It's quite painful at times, but that's rallying. "I always say it's five years [to become a top driver].

"It's maybe reduced to four now with technology without being on the event - but at the end of the day you need that experience [of events]."

When asked if the process was similar with Tanak, Wilson replied: "Yeah, Ott was obviously a long process, I hope with Teemu the process can be reduced, but at the end of the day he has the speed."

M-Sport intended for Elfyn Evans to be Suninen's full-time team-mate for 2019 but the Welshman has been sidelined since mid-July with a back injury sustained on the non-championship Rally Estonia.

With Evans not back until Rally GB in October, Pontus Tidemand will represent the team on the next round in Turkey.

Gus Greensmith has filled the stand-in role for the last two events in Finland and Germany but M-Sport is keen for him to now focus on showing the potential of its new R5 spec Ford Fiesta on upcoming rallies.

shares
comments
Breen gets WRC Rally GB outing with Hyundai

Previous article

Breen gets WRC Rally GB outing with Hyundai

Next article

Makinen plays down WRC rumours Hyundai's Sordo could move to Toyota

Makinen plays down WRC rumours Hyundai's Sordo could move to Toyota
Load comments
Does Neuville have a point with his Rally1 rant? Plus

Does Neuville have a point with his Rally1 rant?

OPINION: Thierry Neuville's diatribe against the upcoming Rally1-spec machines that will usher in the World Rally Championship's new hybrid era was remarkable in an era where drivers are usually reticent to air their views in public. But are the Belgian's concerns about speed, safety and cost entirely valid?

WRC
Sep 16, 2021
How the WRC's new flying Finn reached new heights in the Greek mountains Plus

How the WRC's new flying Finn reached new heights in the Greek mountains

After Kalle Rovanpera’s historic feat at Rally Estonia, the Finn scaled new heights at the Rally of the Gods with a commanding victory. And this time Toyota’s young star demonstrated why the future is bright with his devastating speed and consistency at the Acropolis Rally

WRC
Sep 13, 2021
The WRC drivers that came of age at the Acropolis Rally Plus

The WRC drivers that came of age at the Acropolis Rally

Five drivers have won first time out at the Rally Acropolis, transcending the tough dirt and gravel Greek roads to cement a place in rallying folklore. Here are three of the first-time winners' tales

WRC
Sep 9, 2021
Understanding Suninen’s sudden WRC exit gamble Plus

Understanding Suninen’s sudden WRC exit gamble

From being considered a likely contender to drive the next-generation M-Sport Ford Puma in 2022, Teemu Suninen's abrupt exit has created plenty of questions. The Finn's bid to become his country's next World Rally Championship winner won't be furthered by being sidelined, but there may be reason behind the decision

WRC
Sep 2, 2021
Could Spa’s cameo offer the WRC a new avenue to exploit? Plus

Could Spa’s cameo offer the WRC a new avenue to exploit?

OPINION: The Ypres Rally featured a cameo from the Spa-Francorchamps circuit in its final stage, giving WRC teams the chance to experience its iconic corners in rallying machinery. It proved to be an engaging addition to the rally, and could perhaps serve as an example for other events to visit famous circuits

WRC
Aug 24, 2021
How Hyundai's home hero delivered overdue WRC success in Belgium Plus

How Hyundai's home hero delivered overdue WRC success in Belgium

With limited recent fortune and pressure starting to mount, Hyundai needed a big result at the Ypres Rally. All the key components came together in Belgium to see home hero Thierry Neuville lead a manufacturer 1-2 and kickstart its World Rally Championship challenge

WRC
Aug 16, 2021
The new car that can resurrect Ford's WRC winning pedigree Plus

The new car that can resurrect Ford's WRC winning pedigree

M-Sport has become the first to unveil its new-for-2022 hybrid World Rally Championship challenger, the Puma Rally1. Ford has upped its support in a bid for glory, but can the new machine roll back the years and return the Blue Oval to the top of the WRC tree?

WRC
Aug 12, 2021
The rookie WRC driver aiming to continue Loeb and Ogier's legacies Plus

The rookie WRC driver aiming to continue Loeb and Ogier's legacies

French drivers have dominated the World Rally Championship across the past two decades; Sebastiens Loeb and Ogier have racked up the titles in commanding fashion. With Ogier calling it a day on full-time WRC competition from next year, France will pin its long-term hopes on rookie Adrien Fourmaux, who looks to have a bright future.

WRC
Aug 7, 2021