On his home round of the Championship this week, long-serving Rally2 exponent Huttunen is making the step up to the full fat Rally1 hybrid car, and brings the total number of Ford Pumas out on the stages to five.

Huttunen joined forces with the Cockermouth-based squad in 2021 after his four-year partnership with Hyundai Motorsport was dissolved. During that spell, he sealed the WRC3 title with Mikko Lukka in an I20 N Rally2 supermini.

Testing in the build-up to round eight of the World Rally Championship is said to have gone well for Huttunen and Team Principal Richard Millener has already acknowledged that having the 28-year-old within their ranks for one of the fastest events on the calendar “will be a huge asset”.

However, he insists that there are no major expectations on Huttunen and instead “the aim is to create a low-pressure environment for him to experience life at the sharp end of World Rally Championship”.

Having said that, Millener and his colleagues clearly see something they like and have described Huttunen as “a dedicated and professional driver” in their pre-event media release, adding: “His collection of podiums in a Rally2 give a hint to his potential in Rally1 machinery.”

As for Huttunen – who will be running with the number 68 on his doors as a tribute to his mentor, manager and two-time World champion Marcus Grönholm – he is keeping an open mind about what is possible in front of local support.

“It is a very special moment for me to be able to make my Rally1 debut on my home event in Finland,” he said. “There will be, I’m sure, an amazing atmosphere with the fans and it’s always a fantastic event to compete on. I have a lot of experience on this event at a Rally2 level, so it’s really exciting to make the step-up to Rally1 here.

“We did some testing last month, and the car feels good, so we are looking forward to getting out there and seeing what we can do,” he added.

Finland is the second time this campaign that five M-Sport Ford-run Puma Rally1 cars will share the stages, the last being Rally de Portugal back in May. These will be driven by Huttunen, Craig Breen, Gus Greensmith and the French duo of Adrien Fourmaux and Pierre-Louis Loubet.