26 Feb 08
Suzuki kicks off this year's Junior World Rally Championship (J-WRC) with Jaan Molder from Estonia and Michal Kosciuszko from Poland at the wheel of Suzuki Swift Super 1600 cars.
Both Molder and Kosciuszko, who are run by Suzuki Sport Europe, will compete in Mexico, Jordan, Italy, Finland, Spain and France.
The Suzuki Swift comes into the 2008 Junior series as the car to beat, having claimed first and second places on last year's J-WRC at the hands of P-G Andersson and Urmo Aava. Nonetheless, Molder and Kosciuszko will be up against some strong opposition over the course of the season.
For both crews, the heat and dust of Mexico will be an entirely new experience, although they both have some experience of Suzuki from the past.
The 20 year-old Molder, co-driven this season by Belgian Frederic Miclotte, first competed for Suzuki in an Ignis on the 2006 Rallye d'Italia, and he has also driven six events in a Swift - winning the Junior category on the 2006 Rally Great Britain.
"Mexico is going to be a big learning curve for me, although luckily I have some knowledge of the Swift now and this should help,” said Molder. “Suzuki has also contested this event before as part of the Junior Championship in 2005 - and the cars finished first and second! I'm hoping that is a good omen, although realistically it will be very tough for us. The priority will be to get off to a solid start by finishing and scoring points."
Kosciuszko, aged 22, made his World Rally Championship debut with Suzuki at the Swedish Rally in 2006. He has contested just two events with a Swift, but his best result came on the 2006 Acropolis Rally when he won his class in an Ignis. Michal will be co-driven this year by his fellow Pole, Macek Szczepaniak.
“The way to succeed in the Junior Championship is to score points consistently, so this will be our aim from the start, said Kosciuszko. “I don't know what to expect from Mexico and the conditions there, but it should be a very nice gravel rally - which is an excellent way to start the season."
Suzuki’s team principal Nobuhiro 'Monster' Tajima said: "This season is a landmark year for Suzuki: as well as our first full year with the SX4 WRC we are also represented once more in the Junior World Championship, a series we have won twice. P-G Andersson - who took the Junior title for us on both occasions - is now one of our WRC drivers, so it is clear that there is a real ladder of talent within Suzuki that takes drivers from junior level all the way to the top category of the sport. I really hope that Jaan and Michal make the most of this opportunity that they now have, but in order to win the championship it is first necessary to finish all the rallies. There is a lot to catch people out in Mexico, so they both need to be careful and find the right balance between speed and consistency as soon as possible."