Tricky start for Suzuki in Jordan
In a day of searing heat alongside the Dead Sea, the Suzuki World Rally Team had a challenging start to the first ever World Rally Championship round in Jordan. Finland's Toni Gardemeister ended the opening test inside the top 10 positions and in a confident mood. Unfortunately for Suzuki, his team-mate P-G Andersson slipped off the road six kilometers into the Suwayma stage, undamaging his car but ending his participation in day one of the Jordan Rally. Andersson will return tomorrow, under the super rally regulations, with his SX4 WRC running again in perfect condition. Gardemeister remained in the top 10 for the next test, but was forced out of the rally after five kilometres of the third stage with a damaged sump.
Car news Suzuki SX4 WRC n.11 (Gardemeister), n.12 (Andersson):
The engine in Gardemeister's SX4 WRC suffered sufficient damage when a rock hit the sump, that running on the second day was not possible. Such were the rough conditions on the Middle Eastern roads, the Finn couldn't even remember where the impact had happened. Andersson's car was completely undamaged when it went off the road. The Swede actually managed to get the car back on the road himself, having located some pieces of wood to place under the wheels, allowing the car to reverse out of the ditch it had landed in. Unfortunately for the double Junior Rally Champion, he reached the end of the first stage out of time and was unable to continue in day one.
Toni Gardemeister: "I was happy with the first couple of stages. In some corners, we were going a little bit wide, but the times were quite okay. I thought this was going to be a good event for us. We had a real chance to get some good points here. I knew P-G had had a problem and I was thinking that we needed to make sure there was one SX4 at the finish, so I wasn't pushing very hard. I wasn't flat-out and didn't want to take the big risks. I don't know which stone it was that caused the problems there were so many of them about! As soon as I heard the engine starting to sound like it wasn't right in SS3, I pulled over and switched it off. I am also upset for the team because I wanted to get a result for them on this rally. I came here to drive well and to compete with the other cars on even ground. I do believe we could have made a result, particularly when you look at how many of the cars are having problems in these really tough conditions."
P-G Andersson: "My problem came in a section about six kilometres into the stage. It was a left-hander going into a tighter right. I was too fast into the left and then couldn't gather the car for the next right. The car started to drift and then went off the road on the inside of the corner. The front was buried in some deep sand. A couple of people were there to help, but there was no way the car was coming out until I found some wood to go under the wheels. By the time I had done that and we got back on the road, we were OTL (Over Time Limit). I had a slow puncture from earlier in the stage, but the problem was my speed not the tyre. It's really disappointing. I need to be in the car and driving stages right now, so there is a lot of frustration when this happens. We all want to show what the SX4 WRC can do."
Paul Wilding, Suzuki World Rally Team manager: "Toni's problem was unfortunate. It's very unlucky for the rock to hit precisely the wrong part of the bottom of the car and to cause a problem like this. But this has happened to Toni and cost him and the team dearly. We all feel for Toni and Tomi they had made good times on the first two stages. This is the drivers' first time on this event, it's not like they have many years of pace notes to start with as a reference. Instead they made notes for the first time. P-G seems to have been caught out by the difference in the recce and rally speed and the unknown factor of what the surface could do. Many of the other drivers have returned to the service park with similar stories. I think it's just unfortunate that P-G has been caught out by this, and both P-G and the team have paid a heavy price. His SX4 WRC was undamaged in the incident and is running perfectly, so he will be ready to re-start tomorrow."