Suzuki drivers make a solid start in Sardinia Both Suzuki drivers have made a solid start to the Rally d'Italia Sardegna, round six of the World Rally Championship. Toni Gardemeister returned to final service at the harbourside in Olbia...
Suzuki drivers make a solid start in Sardinia
Both Suzuki drivers have made a solid start to the Rally d'Italia Sardegna, round six of the World Rally Championship. Toni Gardemeister returned to final service at the harbourside in Olbia occupying a provisional 10th position, while his team mate P-G Andersson was about nine seconds behind him in 11th. The crews were greeted by cooler conditions than were expected on Italy's round of the World Championship, and stages that had been made extremely slippery by recent heavy rainfall.
The Suzuki crews made a cautious start on the opening stage, but Gardemeister was up to an impressive sixth by the end of SS2 and arrived at midday service in a point-scoring eighth. Both cars have reached the finish of day one with no major problems and are poised to improve on their positions over the challenging leg two tomorrow.
Car news Suzuki SX4 WRC n.11 (Gardemeister), n.12 (Andersson):
Both cars were largely reliable throughout the day's six stages, despite the extremely rough conditions. Toni encountered some small gear selection problems throughout the day but otherwise had a clean run to the finish, while P-G struggled with a slight front brake problem. Thanks to some of the improvements introduced since the Jordan Rally, there were no other issues with the cars all day: a promising sign that the decision to concentrate on reliability is yielding results.
Toni Gardemeister: "Today has actually been a very good day for us. To be sixth fastest and sixth overall at the end of the longest stage of the rally this morning was very encouraging. We had a few problems with the downshifts on the gearbox all day, but really nothing major. I just tried to be very smooth and precise on these stages, because if you go off the line then it is easy to have a puncture or hit a rock."
P-G Andersson: "It's been a steady start to the rally, but these stages are very difficult. Maybe it's because of the changing level of grip, or maybe because the roads are so narrow, but it's been hard to find a good rhythm. It's been very slippery as well a bit more than I expected. I had a problem with the brakes in the afternoon, but our objective has been to stay out of trouble and so far I think we've managed to achieve that. If we keep the same level of reliability tomorrow, then I'm confident that we can move up the order."
Paul Wilding, Suzuki World Rally Team manager: "We're very pleased with the result at the end of the first day. The team has achieved its goal in these unusually rough conditions, and we have been able to learn a lot. We look forward to building on this solid foundation tomorrow, which will be the longest day of the rally and every bit as challenging as the conditions we faced today."