28 May 08
Like the previous round in Sardinia, the Acropolis Rally is an event that Suzuki has experienced before in the Junior World Rally Championship and the team is hoping this prior knowledge will give it a head start in the WRC category this week.
Strength and reliability are the keys to success on rallies such as the Acropolis and the team says recent changes to the SX4 WRC have led to improvements in both areas. On the most recent WRC round in Sardinia the team was encouraged by a faultless run and top-10 finish for P-G Andersson.
Modifications to the SX4 WRC, enabling it to cope with the rough Acropolis conditions, include increased under-floor protection and improvements to the cooling system. This follows on from the evolutions to the suspension and differential that appeared in Sardinia.
Suzuki World Rally Team Principal Nobuhiro ‘Monster’ Tajima says he wants both his drivers to get their cars to the finish this time. “Our objective remains to get both cars into the points, although this is a big task,” said Tajima. “In order to help us achieve this, our drivers will need to remember that the most important thing is always to get to the finish, by continuing the mature and measured approach they have adopted all year.”
This will be Toni Gardemeister’s seventh Acropolis Rally, with a best result of second overall in 2005. Despite contesting only a limited programme in 2006, he was fourth on the Acropolis two years ago as well.
“The Acropolis is a rally that I have always liked, but along with most rallies these days it is more of a sprint event than the marathon it used to be”, said Gardemeister. “If we have the strength and reliability that we are aiming for, then it could actually be a rally that suits our car because the most important thing is to be there at the finish. I think we will approach the rally in much the same way as we did in Sardinia: there is no point in pushing flat-out everywhere. We learnt a lot in Sardinia, so hopefully in Greece we can finish in the points.”
P-G Andersson has competed on the Acropolis Rally twice, on the Junior World Rally Championship with Suzuki. The young Swede has mixed memories of the event: on his first experience of the rally in 2004 he rolled his Ignis Super 1600 twice, but in 2005 he won the Junior category.
“I’ve had some very different experiences of the Acropolis, that’s true!” said P-G. “It’s never the easiest event, but I think for any driver actually, and for the whole team, it’s a real challenge. Although I’ve been to Greece before, I’ve never done the stages around Athens, as when I competed on the rally previously all the stages were near Lamia a long way to the west of Athens. Sardinia was a very positive experience for me and the whole team so our aim is to repeat that in Greece. I’ll just be taking it carefully and driving around the biggest rocks.”