Finnish youngster and 2020 FIA WRC3 Champion, Jari Huttunen, will make his Rally1 debut with M-Sport on Rally Finland in an M-Sport Ford Puma Hybrid Rally1.
Since joining the M-Sport Ford World Rally Team in November 2021, the Finn has claimed one victory and a total of three podiums in his four WRC2 appearances in a Fiesta Rally2.
Huttunen’s step up to the Rally1 category underlines M-Sport’s commitment to provide young drivers with opportunities at the top level of the sport.
Huttunen will be co-driven by his regular co-driver, Mikko Lukka, who helped guide Huttunen to his 2020 WRC3 Championship success. In total, Huttunen has claimed five victories in the World Rally Championship’s WRC2 and WRC3 support categories. His most recent WRC2 victory was on ACI Rally Monza, where he made his debut in a Fiesta Rally2, impressing the team immediately.
Huttunen has made three appearances in the 2022 WRC2 Championship for M-Sport, earning two podiums and ten stage wins along the way. His two podium finishes were also enough for overall points, with ninth overall on Rally Sweden and tenth overall in Sardinia.
Ahead of Rally Finland, Huttunen will get a full test day in Estonia to prepare and get accustomed to the Puma Hybrid Rally1 car, a rally thoroughbred that will allow Huttunen to show his raw speed and talent on one of the fastest rallies of the year.
Before embarking on his Rally1 debut, Huttunen will enter the blazingly fast gravel stages of Rally Estonia in a Fiesta Rally2 as part of his WRC2 campaign, serving as the perfect appetiser for a back-to-back special of fast-paced gravel competition.
Jari Huttunen, said:
“I’m really excited to be doing my home rally in a Puma, it will be a great experience and I’m looking forward to the atmosphere with the fans and everything. It will definitely be challenging on such a fast rally in a car with so much power, but I have a good feeling in the Rally2 already and so I feel we will carry that feeling over to the Puma. I’ve really enjoyed working with M-Sport on these past events and I’m starting to feel very at home. The aim for the weekend will be to learn from the car and try to keep a good rhythm with a steady pace.
It can be a tricky event but I know it quite well, so let’s see what happens. I’m very glad to be given this opportunity by M-Sport so we want to make the most of it.”
Richard Millener, Team Principal, M-Sport Ford World Rally Team, said:
“I can’t wait to see Jari step up into Rally1 machinery and feel very proud that it will be in an M-Sport Ford Puma Hybrid Rally1. We are promoting a new generation of cars this year as we embark upon WRC’s new hybrid era, it is therefore paramount that we provide opportunities to a new generation of drivers as well. This is something M-Sport prides itself on and has a long history of doing, and we saw recently with Pierre-Louis what fresh talent is capable of. Jari has followed a similar path to Pierre-Louis when you look at their results and I am sure everybody will be keeping a keen eye on Jari’s progress. From the team’s perspective there will be no goals or pressure, we simply want to see what Jari can do when given the tools and machinery. It will be a learning exercise more than anything, for Jari,
Mikko and the team. For Jari he will be starting to learn what it takes to be at the very top of the WRC, for us we will learn what we need to do to support and develop Jari to get him to the top level.”
Photo of Huttunen: Hannu Rainamo
Photo of the car: M-Sport