Suninen issues apology for “small mistake”

Teemu Suninen. Image: Austral Worldwide/Hyundai Motorsport GmbH

Teemu Suninen. Image: Austral Worldwide/Hyundai Motorsport GmbH

Hyundai Motorsport’s Teemu Suninen says a momentary lapse in concentration was the cause of his penultimate stage accident in Rally Chile which cost him a WRC career-best second place result.

Making his third Rally1 appearance of the season for the South Korean manufacturer, Suninen began the deciding Sunday leg of the gravel event 13.3s up on team-mate Thierry Neuville.

However, the young Finn’s advantage was cut in half by Neuville on the morning loop’s two special stages before the pressure finally told seven kilometres into the 13.2km ‘Las Pataguas’ test.

Nibbling just a little too much at the inside of the corner, Suninen kissed the stump of a tree with the front wheel of his Hyundai i20 N Rally1 car and damaged the steering. Powerless at this point, his car slid off the gravel road into a ditch where it finished – along with Suninen’s podium hopes.

Up until then, the 29-year-old – who is currently part of Hyundai’s Motorsport Driver Development Programme – had produced one of his strongest runs in a Rally1 car alongside Mikko Markkula.

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“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 I hit a tree stump, which was game over. I am 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,” he added.

Between now and the newest addition to the World Rally Championship roster, Team Principal Cyril Abiteboul believes certain individuals need to cut out errors and raise the level of their game.

“Eliminating mistakes and improving our overall consistency must be our immediate priority as we head towards the final two rallies of the season,” said Abiteboul, who decided against imposing team orders prior to the closing day but had stressed the need for Suninen and Neuville to finish.

Whilst Suninen failed to honour his side of the bargain, there was no such trouble for Neuville as the World Rally Championship veteran went on to collect the extra points that come with second position.

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