Suzuki finishes the 2008 season on a high
The Suzuki World Rally Team has finished its debut World Rally Championship season with the SX4 WRC on a high note, equalling the team's best-ever result. Up-and-coming Swede P-G Andersson was fifth at the end of the Wales Rally GB, matching the result he obtained on the Rally Japan last month. Toni Gardemeister was seventh, ensuring that the team placed both cars in the drivers' and manufacturers' points for the second consecutive event. It was a very positive conclusion to a season that has seen Suzuki steadily climb a steep learning curve, underlining the SX4 WRC's pace and reliability.
The final day of the Wales Rally GB consisted of two loops of two stages totalling 96.10 kilometres, with service at Swansea in between them. The finish, watched by thousands of fans, took place in the Welsh capital of Cardiff. With temperatures that dipped as low as minus six degrees centigrade overnight, there was plenty of frost and ice on the roads. Nonetheless, neither driver put a foot wrong in the tricky conditions. Andersson was able to maintain the fifth place that he started the day with, while Gardemeister made up one position to finish seventh.
Car news - Suzuki SX4 WRC n.11 (Gardemeister), n.12 (Andersson):
Both the Suzuki SX4 WRCs were completely reliable throughout all three days of the rally, highlighting the car's reputation for strength and durability in some of the most inhospitable conditions seen all year. The drivers progressively adjusted the SX4 WRC's suspension set-up to cope with the soft roads today, but with such a wide variety of conditions it was mostly a question of identifying the best compromise. Despite the challenging stages, the car showed that it was capable of setting some top-five times over the course of the rally - with Andersson finishing day one on the provisional podium.
Both drivers concentrated just on reaching the finish during the final leg today, although Gardemeister had a slight impact with a bank after sliding on a patch of ice on the day's second stage. P-G enjoyed a solid run to the finish, having steered clear of trouble throughout the four slippery stages that concluded the 2008 World Rally Championship season.
Toni Gardemeister: "Generally speaking there has been a surprising amount of grip today; when I opened the curtains and saw the frost this morning I thought that it would be much worse. However, we still found a patch of ice on SS17 and I had to go up the bank, otherwise we would have been off the road. Apart from that we had no real problems at all and I'm pleased to end the season with a points finish. It's very clear that we've improved the SX4 WRC a lot throughout the year in terms of both speed and reliability."
P-G Andersson: "It's been a really good rally for me, and the highlight was obviously finishing the first day in third overall. Today we had a big gap to the car in front so it was more a question of maintaining our position and luckily the conditions were a little more consistent than they were yesterday, so that helped us. We've had no problems at all during all three days and equalled our best ever result here despite the tricky weather, so it's an extremely positive way to end the season."
Suzuki World Rally Team Director Shusuke Inagaki: "The Wales Rally Great Britain is renowned for providing an extremely tough challenge, but conditions this year have been even worse than anticipated. Nonetheless, our cars have been extremely reliable and our drivers have kept them on the road. As a result, we have once more brought both the SX4 WRCs home in the points without problems for the second consecutive time. This is a sign of the very real progress we have made, and I would like to thank everybody in the team for all their efforts over the course of the season."