Rd.3 Rally de Portugal

  • Country : Portugal
  • Date : 2-5/4/2009
  • Road surface : gravel
  • Total distance : 1164.99km

EVENT REPORT

Kosciuszko Dominates Rally de Portugal with Suzuki

Suzuki-powered Junior World Rally Championship driver Michal Kosciuszko stormed to a crushing victory on the Algarve, home of the 2009 Rally de Portugal. A faultless performance by the 23-year-old Pole was matched by the speed and reliability of his Suzuki Swift Super 1600 on the treacherous gravel terrain of the Algarve to deliver victory by more than six minutes.

Initially Kosciuszko had to claw back time lost in a cautious approach to the fan-friendly superspecial stage in the Estádio Algarve, but as soon as the rally got back onto the signature special stages for which Portugal is famed – fast, flowing and rocky gravel – he took off and was never headed for the rest of the 18 stages.

A French newcomer Yoann Bonato drove a similar Suzuki Swift Super 1600 to intimidate Kosciuszko for much of the rally. The 25-year-old skiing instructor relished his first opportunity to try the Suzuki on gravel, but an accident on Saturday afternoon put paid to his chances of taking his place on the podium.

Another Suzuki driver in Portugal, Italian Simone Bertolotti, ended the event in sixth place after a stressful time in which damage on the stages forced him to retire and restart under the Super Rally rules. Nevertheless Bertolotti is one of three Suzuki drivers currently sitting in the top five positions in the championship, while Kosciuszko capitalised on the points available as title rivals Martin Prokop and Aaron Burkart elect to miss this event as one of their two scheduled 'passes'.

About the Rally de Portugal:

The Rally de Portugal returns to the World Rally Championship calendar for the first time since 2007: Renowned for its passionate, loyal and vocal army of fans, the rally consists of extremely fast and challenging stages on loose gravel around the picturesque seaside resort of Faro on the Algarve coast.

Suzuki entries on Rally de Portugal:

Three Suzuki Swift Super 1600s competed in this weekend's event: the Polish pairing of Michal Kosciuszko/Maciek Szczepaniak (number 32), the all-Italian crew of Simone Bertolotti (number 33) carrying the famous yellow and black colours of Suzuki Sport and the distinctive white car of French pairing of Yoann Bonato and Benjamin Boulloud (number 35).

Michael Kosciuszko
News from Michal Kosciuszko (PL)
  • Born 20 April 1985
  • Co-driver: Maciek Szczepaniak (PL)

“The performance was really strong all weekend, but we were a little nervous about our tyres as the stages are very tough on them, particularly after the WRC cars have chewed them up in front of us. On Friday we changed the front and rear tyres over for wear but had the wrong pressures in them, so we had to use the footpump and broke the valve so then had to change the wheel really fast. Coming in to the last day we only had four tyres, so drove pretty conservatively to maintain the lead without using them up too. The car was just perfect, though. The speed and handling were right where I wanted them.”

Simone Bertolotti
News from Simone Bertolotti (I)
  • Born 4 May 1985
  • Co-driver: Luca Celestini (I)

“Unfortunately we had a bit of trouble, but scoring some points relieved us a lot. I only wish I could drive more, because it was my first gravel event with Suzuki Swift super 1600. I will do my best to achieve a better result in the next rally in Sardegna.”

2009 JWRC Rd.3 : Rally de Portugal, final results
Pos. No. Driver Car Total Time Diff 1st
1 32 M. KOSCUISZKO Suzuki Swift Super 1600 4:22:38.6 0.0
2 37 K. ABBRING Renault Clio RS R3 4:28:45.1 +6:06.5
3 36 H. WEIJS Jr. Citroen C2 Super 1600 4:32:01.3 +9:22.7
4 34 L. GORIOTTI Renault Clio R3 4:37:48.7 +15:10.9
5 39 A. BETTEGA Renault Clio R3 4:49:23.1 +26:44.5
6 33 S. BERTOLOTTI Suzuki Swift Super 1600 5:04:38.9 +42:00.3
  • Calendar
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  • Drivers
  • Driver's Point Standings