Huttunen missed out on Hyundai WRC2 seat due to money says Grönholm

by Pontus Lindroos
Jari Huttunen

Jari Huttunen had a solid foot inside the 2018 FIA World Rally Championship, but since then the driver from Kiuruvesi in Finland has been left out in the shadows.

Huttunen who is managed by the two-time World Rally Champion Marcus Grönholm, started to build up an international rally career for four years ago.

In 2016 he drove in the ADAC Opel Adam Cup in Germany, where he was crowned the champion at the end of that season.

In the 2017 season, he started to compete in the Junior U27 class of FIA European Rally Championship, where he finished the year third in the championship. The same year he entered the Neste World Rally in Finland where he won the WRC2 class, despite having lack of knowledge of driving a four-wheel-drive R5 car at the time.

Photo Credit: @Wilfried Marcon / DPPI

Huttunen performed well during these two seasons and Hyundai had him in their sights, he was one of the eight drivers to reach the final stage to secure a deal for Hyundai’s R5 program for the 2018 WRC2 season.

In September 2017 Hyundai WRC team announced that Huttunen would be offered a development program for 2018.

In 2018, Huttunen entered seven WRC2 rounds with the Hyundai i20 R5, with his best result at Neste World Rally finishing second in the class. Previously, he had shown great momentum but the results were worse than it was expected. Most of it was blamed on the poor performance of the Hyundai i20 R5 car which could not keep up with the Škoda and M-Sport cars.

Hyundai’s development program was put on ice before last year, and Huttunen was left without a proper rally program. He was able to drive a Hyundai i20 WRC in two Finnish Rally Championship rounds and he also participated in selected international races with an i20 R5.

Jari Huttunen - Hyundai Motorsport
Credit: HMSG

Hyundai expanded their rally programme this season with its new junior program, for which Huttunen did not receive a seat, losing out to Ole Christian Veiby from Norway and Nikolay Gryazin from Russia, who started their season just over a week ago at the Rallye Monte-Carlo.

“Huttunen is still part of Hyundai. They want to help him, but they chose Gryazin and Veiby for their WRC2 season. It was just a matter of money,” Grönholm told Rallit.fi.

Gryazin and Veiby are doing very well, but Huttunen would have got a seat if we had been able to raise money. I immediately said that we would not be able to do that,

Photo Credit: Gregory Lenormand / DPPI

We still don’t know exactly what Jari is driving this season. That program is being worked on right now, ”Grönholm added on his interview with Rallit.fi

Huttunen will be entering the Rally Sweden next weekend in a private run Hyundai i20 R5 in the WRC3 class, it is once again a new chapter for the Finn.

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