Suninen switches to ex-Hirvonen co-driver Lehtinen for rest of '19 WRC

M-Sport Ford World Rally Championship driver Teemu Suninen has switched co-driver, with Jarmo Lehtinen returning to rallying's top flight to join his Finnish compatriot

Suninen switches to ex-Hirvonen co-driver Lehtinen for rest of '19 WRC

Suninen said the switch had come as he sought a more experienced co-driver for the rest of the season, starting with Rally Italy next weekend.

Lehtinen, who has 169 WRC starts (all but eight of which were alongside Mikko Hirvonen), replaces Marko Salminen - who completed his 31st WRC round by helping Suninen to fourth place on Rally Portugal earlier this month.

Suninen said: "I want to thank Marko because we achieved a lot together over the first half of the year: we won stages and led our very first rally.

"But I am still learning and having the experience of someone like Jarmo will be really important if I am to achieve my goals over the second half of the season.

"Rally Sardinia is quite familiar to me. This will be my fourth time there and I hope that helps as I get up to speed with Jarmo.

"With only a week since the previous event we haven't had long to prepare, but if everything goes to plan I'm confident I can show the same pace I had in Portugal.

"We'll need to be really focused, not only because this is a new partnership but also because this is a really tough rally.

"The stages can be quite rough so we'll have to have to be careful to mark every stone on the recce."

Lehtinen, who has contested two WRC rounds with Hiroki Arai in a Ford Fiesta R5 car this year, said he was pleased to be back in the championship on a full-time basis.

"When Mikko stopped," he told Autosport, "I was ready to take a sabbatical and then find a new driver to come back.

"But then I was busy with Tommi [Makinen, Toyota team principal] and suddenly three years had passed.

"It's really excited to be back in the car.

"Sure, these new cars will be fast, but the old ones were quite fast as well!"

shares
comments
M-Sport reveals new, second-generation Fiesta R5 rally car

Previous article

M-Sport reveals new, second-generation Fiesta R5 rally car

Next article

Adamo will apologise to Loeb after Hyundai WRC Portugal issues

Adamo will apologise to Loeb after Hyundai WRC Portugal issues
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