Suninen apologises to Hyundai for costly WRC Rally Chile mistake

Teemu Suninen has apologised for a “very small mistake" that ultimately denied Hyundai a double World Rally Championship podium finish at Rally Chile.

Teemu Suninen, Hyundai World Rally Team

The Finn, competing in only his third start driving a Rally1 hybrid, appeared on course to finish on the podium following an impressive run through Friday and Saturday in the final gravel round of the season.

Suninen briefly led the rally after winning stage four before slotting into second, which he held until an error on the event’s penultimate stage. The 29-year-old was in a battle with team-mate Thierry Neuville when he clipped a tree stump that caused terminal damage to his front right suspension.

Suninen’s exit promoted Neuville to second ahead of the Toyota trio of Elfyn Evans, Kalle Rovanpera and Takamoto Katsuta. It effectively ended Hyundai’s faint WRC manufacturers’ title hopes as Toyota outscored the Korean brand by the required 13 points to score a third consecutive crown.     

“I would like to say a big thank you to the team. It was a great rally and a nice battle with Thierry, but unfortunately, our hard work came to an end because of a very small mistake,” said Suninen.

“I was just a few centimetres too tight with my line and hit a tree stump, which was game over. Thankfully we are unhurt. 

“I’m very sorry to the entire team that we were unable to bring home the podium for them this weekend. We hope to be able to put that right in a few weeks at Central European Rally.”

Teemu Suninen, Mikko Markkula, Hyundai World Rally Team Hyundai i20 N Rally1

Teemu Suninen, Mikko Markkula, Hyundai World Rally Team Hyundai i20 N Rally1

Photo by: Austral / Hyundai Motorsport

Hyundai had set itself a target of a double podium following Esapekka Lappi’s retirement after rolling on the opening stage.    

Team principal Cyril Abiteboul admitted Suninen’s retirement was “disappointing” but is hopeful his driver can learn from the mistake.    

“When we lost a car on the opening stage on Friday and we had convinced ourselves that P2, P3 could have been a nice result to come away from Chile,” Abiteboul told Autosport. 

“It is pretty disappointing with what happened with Teemu and in particular, we had discussed the target for the team, and we were ready to secure the podium.  

"I think he got a bit carried away with his position and maybe did not put the right priority in front of the right target. 


“I hope we can all move on and he can gain in maturity after this incident, which doesn’t take away the fact that he did a strong rally outside of that.” 

Suninen is set to pilot Hyundai’s third i20N at the Central European Rally, which hosts the penultimate round of the season later this month (26-29 October). His future beyond that is yet to be confirmed.

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