11 Jun 08
Suzuki World Rally Team principal Nobuhiro ‘Monster' Tajima says durability remains the key focus within the Suzuki squad ahead of Rally Turkey.
In terms of durability, the most recent round of the series, The Acropolis, was one of Suzuki's strongest-ever events, with both cars reaching the finish ramp for the first time this year. Tajima hopes the lessons learned in Greece will help the team on what is expected to be the final rough rally of the season.
"Turkey is an excellent opportunity for us to continue developing the car in these types of conditions," said Tajima. "So far we have made a lot of progress, but there is still plenty of work ahead of us if we are to achieve our objective of eventually challenging for podiums. Our objective for Turkey is to once more finish with both cars in the points and build some solid foundations for the future."
The team’s SX4 World Rally Car will start Turkey with broadly the same base set-up as Greece, but with some specific changes. Adjustments have been made to the suspension and dampers and the car's cooling system has also been modified.
Toni Gardemeister has contested the Rally of Turkey twice before, finishing sixth overall in 2005, while P-G Andersson has competed three times already in Turkey: one of the few rallies this year where the young Swede has better knowledge of the conditions than his experienced team-mate.
Nonetheless, P-G has bittersweet memories of the event. Having won the Junior Championship classification as part of a Suzuki one-two in 2005, he won again in 2006 only to be disqualified for a rule infringement concerning the fitting of light pods.
For Gardemeister, it will be very much a question of re-acquainting himself with the Turkish stages after a three-year absence. "I don't know a lot about the stages, but I remember that they were quite nice and classic gravel roads," he said. "In 2003 it was very cold, and the stages were partly covered with snow and ice. When I did the rally in 2005, the recce was very foggy so it was difficult to have good pace notes. Hopefully the conditions should be a bit better this year. In terms of the car, we have definitely seen an improvement in the reliability recently - and our aim is to continue in this way for the rest of the season."
Andersson was also encouraged by the team's performance in the extreme conditions of Greece. "We're definitely on the right road, and I'm looking forward to another good result in Turkey," he said. "Because the conditions are not as bad as the Acropolis, I think we can definitely aim to score some drivers’ points. If the car is as reliable as it was in Greece, I see no reason why that shouldn't be possible. Turkey is a rally that I like a lot, so I think we can push a bit."