Andersson underlines Suzuki SX4 WRC's reliability
P-G Andersson has ended the Rally d'Italia Sardegna inside the top 10, following three days of faultless running for his SX4 WRC. Andersson - who ended up ninth - described his car as "perfect" throughout the entire rally, with the SX4 WRC requiring nothing more than routine servicing at the end of every day. On the final stage he set an excellent sixth-fastest time to finish the rally in style.
His team mate Toni Gardemeister was not so lucky, having retired from day two with an electrical problem after the mid-morning service and failing to finish the final day.
Sardinia is renowned as one of the toughest events on the World Rally Championship, because of its hard surfaces and sharp rocks. Conditions were made even more difficult this year by the unseasonably wet weather, which caused the road surfaces to degrade and exposed yet more sharp rocks. Despite these obstacles, P-G steered clear of trouble to end the rally just outside the points, having proved that Suzuki's decision to put the accent on reliability during this event has paid off. Having learnt several valuable lessons for the future, the team is now feeling confident for the next two rough gravel events in the Mediterranean: Greece and Turkey.
Car news - Suzuki SX4 WRC n.11 (Gardemeister), n.12 (Andersson):
Toni Gardemeister's car developed an electrical glitch after the mid-morning service that meant he was unable to finish the rally today, but Andersson's car was perfect from start to finish and again reported no problems at all today. Following a steep learning curve on the previous rally in Jordan, the Suzuki team had introduced several important new measures designed to enhance the underbody protection and improve the cooling on the SX4 WRC. These evolutions worked well, despite the extremely tough conditions of Sardinia, and further improvements are planned for the next round in Greece - the legendary Acropolis Rally - which takes place in two weeks' time.
Toni Gardemeister: "It's not been a perfect rally for us, but the most important thing is that the team has completed lots of valuable development work on the car and proved with P-G that we can have a good level of reliability. It's always tough in your first year, but I think now we are really beginning to turn a corner and make some solid progress. I have always said that when the car is running reliably it can be a good package, and I think we have shown some potential on this rally. Of course there is plenty of work still to do but we are definitely on the right road."
P-G Andersson: "It's been a very tough rally for us but a good one: the car has been perfect from start to finish and I have been very happy with it. We've had no major problems despite the extremely challenging conditions, which made it very difficult to judge the correct pace, particularly under braking. I hope now that we have got a good basis to work from for the future. I wasn't actually thinking much about points on this event: for all of us the priority was to get the car to the finish safely and I'm very pleased that we have been able to do that."
Paul Wilding, Suzuki World Rally Team manager: "This has been a very satisfying rally for us as we achieved a lot of what we set out to do: to try to get the cars to the finish despite some very rough and challenging conditions. It's just a pity that we couldn't achieve this with both SX4 WRCs, but we will be analysing what happened with Toni's car very carefully, and I'm confident that we'll keep learning and improving into the future. I'd like to thank all the team and drivers for a great job throughout the weekend."