09 Dec 08
The Suzuki World Rally Team finished its debut World Rally Championship season with the SX4 WRC on a high note, equalling the team's best-ever result.
Swede P-G Andersson was fifth at the end of 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. The team said it was ‘a very positive conclusion’ to a season that has seen Suzuki steadily climb a steep learning curve.
Suzuki Team Director Shusuke Inagaki said: "The Wales Rally GB 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 cars 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."
Despite the challenging stages, the SX4 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.
"It's been a really good rally for me, and the highlight was obviously finishing the first day in third overall,” said Andersson. “On Sunday 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 on Saturday, so that helped us. We've had no problems at all during all three days and equalled our best ever result despite the tricky weather, so it's an extremely positive way to end the season."
On the final day of the competition Gardemeister had a slight impact with a bank after sliding on a patch of ice. Apart from that, it was a drama free rally for the Finn. “I'm pleased to end the season with a points finish,” said Toni. “It's very clear that we've improved the SX4 WRC a lot throughout the year in terms of both speed and reliability."
But while Ford, Citroen and Subaru are already at work planning for the 2009 WRC season, Suzuki is yet to confirm whether or not it will stay in the series. Either way a decision will have to be made by 15 December - the date by which Manufacturer entries have to be submitted to the FIA.
Teams hoping to enter the eight round Manufacturer Teams (or M2) competition have until 24 March 2009 to register.