ERC Junior U27 graduate Huttunen in Hyundai for Poland
Jari Huttunen, last year’s FIA ERC Junior Under 27 runner-up, will be back on European championship duty in Poland next week – only this time he’ll be R5-powered.
Having won in R2 machinery last season – including in the Pirelli-supported ERC Junior U27 category in Poland – Huttunen was chosen for the Hyundai Motorsport Driver development Program (HMDP) for 2018. As well as selected tests and world championship rallies, Huttunen’s schedule includes the ERC-counting PZM Rally Poland from 21-23 September in a Hyundai i20 R5 when he will go up against a number of fellow ERC Junior U27 graduates.
“Rally Poland is an important event as part of my HMDP campaign,” said the 24-year-old Finn. “Not only does it help to give me more time in the car, but the gravel surface makes it a very good warm-up event for Rally GB a few weeks later. It will be my first event on gravel since Rally Finland, so hopefully we can show the same level of performance as we did there, and come away with a similar result.”
Huttunen placed second in class on his home round of the world championship in July and was also on form when he tackled the gravel-based Rally Estonia earlier in the month, finishing fifth in an i20 R5. With both events featuring high-speed gravel stages similar to PZM Rally Poland, Huttunen is expected to be among the frontrunners when action begins in Mikołajki next Friday (21 September).
Welcoming Huttunen back to the European championship, Jean-Baptiste Ley, the ERC Co-ordinator, said: “Jari is a great example of a driver with lots of natural talent who used the ERC as the platform for his step up from national to international level. In just one season in ERC Junior U27, Jari was able to gain valuable experience and showcase his skills to a wider audience to the extent he was handed a dream opportunity to drive in the world championship with support from a manufacturer for 2018.
“In fact, Jari is one of several ERC Junior graduates with R5 experience when you consider Fabio Andolfi, Emil Bergkvist, Jan Černý, Marijan Griebel, Nikolay Gryazin, Chris Ingram, Stéphane Lefebvre, Filip Mareš, Tamara Molinaro, Łukasz Pieniazek, Ralfs Sirmacis and Aleks Zawada have all driven R5 cars after graduating from competing in ERC Junior in R2 machinery. Jari will be only too aware of the strong competition he’ll face in Poland and it will be great to see him in the thick of the fight with a number of young, talented drivers.”
Huttunen’s Hyundai i20 R5 will be entered under the Hyundai Motorsport banner and prepared by the same BRC Racing Team that oversaw factory Hyundai driver Dani Sordo’s ERC debut on Barum Czech Rally Zlín last month. Meanwhile, the provisional entry list for the 75th Rally Poland, which counts as the penultimate round of this season’s all-action ERC, is due to be published tomorrow (Wednesday).
Photo: Hyundai Motorsport