Suzuki proves a point in Corsica The dramatic and challenging asphalt roads of Corsica have provided a stimulating challenge for Suzuki that has enabled the team to learn many valuable lessons for SX4 WRC's development in the future. Toni ...
Suzuki proves a point in Corsica
The dramatic and challenging asphalt roads of Corsica have provided a stimulating challenge for Suzuki that has enabled the team to learn many valuable lessons for SX4 WRC's development in the future. Toni Gardemeister also added to the team's constructors' score after three tough days characterised by bumpy surfaces, unexpectedly warm temperatures and plenty of action. Gardemeister finished 13th while his young team mate P-G Andersson was 17th, having been delayed by an accident right at the end of the second day. Despite this setback, it was a positive event for the Japanese team, which has learnt a lot more about the new SX4 WRC on asphalt and showed the pace to score points in both championships.
The final day of the Corsican event - which is the last asphalt rally of the year - took in four lengthy stages including the longest speed test of the entire event, making a total of 116 competitive kilometres on Sunday. Although this long stage was previously used in 2007, the twist this year was that it was run in the opposite direction, making it almost like a brand new road. Throughout this challenging final leg, both Suzuki SX4 WRCs displayed perfect reliability, adding to the impressive record of consistency that the car has displayed since the mid-point of the season.
Conditions were once more dry and warm for the final day of the rally, which took crews to the south of Ajaccio for two loops of two stages. During the repeated stages, the drivers had to contend with plenty of loose gravel that had been pulled onto the road by cars cutting the corners.
Car news - Suzuki SX4 WRC n.11 (Gardemeister), n.12 (Andersson):
Once more, both Suzuki SX4 WRCs performed impeccably - with only a minor fuel pressure problem delaying Toni Gardemeister at the end of day two. Prior to that, the Finn had been running consistently within the top eight despite starting the rally with a flu-like illness. Gardemeister experimented with different set-ups today to find more grip and traction, which will be extremely useful for the future development of the SX4 WRC.
P-G Andersson struggled a little bit with his confidence, having been caught out by a gravelly corner on day two that caused his car to slide into a bank. He started the final day under the super rally system, and used it to re-familiarise himself with the Corsican roads and refine his asphalt driving technique. The young Swede also changed the set-up on his car progressively, to find out more about how it behaves under a different set of parameters. With temperatures generally cooler than they had been on the previous day, the cars and Pirelli control tyres worked well over the four stages.
Toni Gardemeister: "I started the rally feeling really ill but it gradually got better over the next couple of days, which was a big relief as on Friday afternoon it felt nearly impossible for me to drive. On the whole the car was good and we made a lot of improvements over the course of the rally. Today's stages were nice and I really enjoyed myself, but for us it was mostly just a question of driving safely to the finish and making sure of the point. Now we get back to gravel in Japan, which I am looking forward to a lot!"
P-G Andersson: "The biggest problem I've had on this rally is with my confidence. I went off the road on the last rally in Spain and unfortunately the same thing happened again here. So on the last day I really wanted to make sure that I had a safe run to the finish with no further setbacks. Luckily the car felt very nice and I had a good feeling with it by the end. I tried some softer suspension settings as well, which gave us some interesting results. We're learning new things all the time, so I think we can head to the last two rallies with confidence."
Shusuke Inagaki, Suzuki World Rally Team Director: "Corsica has thrown up a huge number of challenges as usual, including a differing selection of bumpy roads and surfaces that range from extremely slippery to very abrasive. This varied array of conditions has enabled us to test a large number of different parameters on the SX4 WRC, which has been very valuable for the continuing development of the car. Toni has struggled with illness on this event so he has done an excellent job under the circumstances. P-G has felt his lack of experience here, but he is improving a lot on this specialised surface. Next up is our home event in Japan, which will be a very exciting event for all of us. Of course we would love to do well on our home territory!"