Teemu Suninen: “I want our pace to match the level of top guys”

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Credit: Dufour Fabien / Hyundai Motorsport GmbH

Rally de Portugal will mark the first rally in the 2022 WRC2 campaign for the Hyundai Motorsport and for this season the team will have a great line-up of two experienced drivers in a pair of Hyundai i20 N Rally2 cars fielded by the RedGrey Racing team.

The Finnish duo of Teemu Suninen and Mikko Markkula are returning to the team after their successful debut for the team in the Rally de Espana last year, where they finished the rally as runner-up.

Suninen has competed with a Rally2 car in Portugal last time in 2021 when he took a second place finish driving for the M-Sport team, before Suninen later parted ways to join the Hyundai outfit at the end of the year.

Suninen hopes he can find a good rhythm in the car early on as this will be the first gravel rally in an i20 N Rally2 machine.

“Rally de Portugal is one of most legendary events in calendar. It’s relatively fast, but still quite a technical gravel rally. It is a bit like a sprint: you have to go flat out, but on the second loop it is critical to look after your tyres at the same time, as it can get a bit rough in places.” Suninen said.

“It will be my first time with Hyundai i20 N Rally2 car on gravel, so my first goal is learn everything and find a good rhythm with the car. After we have found it, I want our pace to match the level of top guys to drive for strong results.” 

Credit: Hyundai Motorsport GmbH

Fabrizio Zaldivar: “I have to say very happy and very excited at the same time”

The rally will also mark the debut for the Hyundai’s new signing and Paraguayan teammate Fabrizio Zaldivar, who will drive the second Hyundai i20 N Rally2 with the experienced Spanish co-driver Carlos del Barrio.

Zaldivar has previously been competing in selected rallies in the FIA Junior World Rally Championship as well as some outtings in the former Rally2 privateer support category WRC3 in various of different machines.

For the 2021 season Zaldivar signed up with the Paraguayan Hyundai customer team Automotor Racing Team and had some successful rallies in the national series and in WRC which opened the door at the main factory team for this season.

Zaldivar made his Rally de Portugal debut last year where he finished eight in class in the WRC3 support category.

“I have to say very happy and very excited at the same time. I think Rally de Portugal is one of the most complete events on the calendar. The fast sections, the different changes of pace and the mountain areas pose a complex challenge, both sporting and technical.” Zaldivar said.

You have to combine speed and precision in the pace-notes, or you end up without tyres and very far from the top times. The work with the team in the previous tests will be the key to achieve a balanced car. Being my first time, we will seek to support the team’s strategy by scoring the most points.” 

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