175 Euros for a rally car? It almost sounds too good to be true…
It was the end of 2012 and Teemu Suninen was standing on a podium at his local car club in the Finnish city of Hyvinkää, receiving an award for the club’s best driver.
“They were asking me where I wanted to go the year after,” Suninen told wrc.com. “I told them, I have no idea. I would like to go rallying, or drive GT cars or Formulas, but I did not have money for anything.”
At that point, there was a stirring in the audience. “One of the spectators raised his hand and said he has a car [a BMW 325i].
“He told me: ‘You can get the car for free, but you have to take me as the co-driver and provide a sump guard’. We were ready to go!”
A deal was a deal, and soon enough Suninen had purchased a sump guard for 175 euros and was in the car with owner Joni Lassila alongside him as co-driver.
“We were doing blind rallies, so it did not matter too much if he did not know the roads. At that moment, I was happy to drive with him and I got the car for free.”
Success was imminent for the pair, despite Suninen’s limited knowledge of the sport.
“In our first rally, I did not really know what is rallying,” mused the M-Sport Ford driver. “When we came to midday service, I thought, OK, I am two minutes behind the top guys, there is no chance I can even be close to them.”
There was a good surprise then, at the end of the day, when he learned that he had finished second in his class. This was followed up by another second, before claiming his maiden win in his third – and final – outing in the 325i.
It would be a case of going out on a high with his first rally car – over the winter break, it was sold. Uncertain of the car’s current whereabouts, Suninen does not rule out one day hunting it down – perhaps to put in a personal museum, much like that of his compatriot, Jari-Matti Latvala.
“For that I need to earn some money first!” he joked. “For sure, it wasn’t the fastest one, but it was a reliable cheap car to drive and easy to fix, so perfect for starting rallying.”
More importantly, he still knows where those people are, who were present back on awards night at the Hyvinkään UA car club, back in 2012. “A week ago, I had a sauna meeting with those guys who helped me out. They have always supported me and helped me in rallying. “