Rd.6 Rally Poland

  • Country : Poland
  • Date : 25-28/6/2009
  • Road surface : gravel
  • Total distance : 1024.38km

EVENT REPORT

Podium finish for Suzuki Swift Super 1600 in Poland

Suzuki Swift driver Michal Kosciuszko was all set for victory on his home event on its first appearance on the World Rally Championship this afternoon. However, Poland’s Junior World Rally Championship hero hit a rock with just one forest stage to go on Rally Poland, when he was fighting for the lead. This bounced him into a tree, and the resulting radiator damage forced him into a heart-breaking retirement.

Nonetheless, Kosciuszko maintains his lead of the Junior World Rally Championship. Poland also resulted in a third place finish in the Juniors for Yoann Bonato, equalling his best-ever JWRC result, and fifth place for Italian driver Simone Bertolotti.

Right from the start, Kosciuszko was on the pace – but he wisely concentrated on his championship prospects rather than getting drawn into a battle during the early stages. He ended the opening day second in the Junior standings, less than half a minute behind the leader. Bonato was fourth, despite a small off on SS4, and Bertolotti was seventh.

A gearbox change overnight gave Kosciuszko more torque on the fast and gravelly stages, allowing him to reel in his rival. It was a hectic battle though, and by the end of the day the Suzuki driver was just 0.8 seconds off the lead, after 13 flat-out stages! Bonato and Bertolotti also had a good day to climb to fourth and fifth respectively.

On the final day, which was once more held in humid conditions, there was another epic fight for the lead. When the cars came into midday service before the last three stages, Kosciuszko had edged into the lead by just 0.1 seconds! Unfortunately, this came to nothing when Kosciuszko hit a rock on SS16 that led to his premature retirement. A strong run from Bonato nonetheless ensured a podium finish for Suzuki in Poland, with Bertolotti ending up fifth.

About the Rally Poland:

The Rally Poland was brand new to the World Rally Championship calendar this year, based in the holiday resort of Mikolajki to the north of Warsaw. The all-gravel stages are fast and flowing, with high average speeds and large crowds of enthusiastic spectators. The surfaces are soft and sandy, providing a good level of grip, but weather conditions can be uncertain.

Suzuki entries on Rally Poland:

A total of three Suzuki Swift Super 1600 drivers took part in the Rally Poland, round six of the Junior World Rally Championship: Michal Kosciuszko (n.32), Simone Bertolotti (n.33) and Yoann Bonato (n.35). Throughout the tough 18-stage event, which totalled 352 competitive kilometres, none of the Suzukis encountered any mechanical problems, reinforcing the marque’s reputation for ease of driving and reliability.

Yoann Bonato
News from Yoann Bonato (F)
  • Born 13 May 1983
  • Co-driver: Benjamin Boulloud (F)

“Once again our Suzuki Swift Super 1600 showed perfect reliability, which is very encouraging. We damaged the car slightly on SS4 when we hit a straw bale, and then we also got an unexpected shower of cold water when we went through a water splash a bit too quickly on SS9. We were able to climb to fourth place by the end of day one, so it was mostly a question of looking after our place until the finish. After Michal’s accident we ended up on the podium, which is always a good result even if we did not like to obtain it in that way.”

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

“The car was good, but I struggled to find the right feeling with the stages and I do not think that we had the set-up that we needed as I was expecting the weather to be more wet and rough. I got a bit more confidence as the rally went on though, and I’m very happy to score some points at the finish.”

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

Encountered no problems on day one, but benefitted from set-up changes on day two to make his car stiffer and lower. He also replaced the gearbox to improve the torque. Throughout the rally he was involved in a huge battle with Renault Clio R3 driver Kevin Abbring, eventually being forced into retirement after hitting a rock with just two stages to go.

“I’m very disappointed that my rally ended this way. There was no way I could avoid hitting the rock. Of course I really wanted to win my home event but the most important thing was always the championship. I had some experience of the stages but not much, as I live 600 kilometres away. During the second day we were able to improve our pace and from there it was a huge battle to the end. Unfortunately we could not seal the result we wanted after we went off on SS16, but that is rallying and that is life. I hope at least that all the Polish fans enjoyed the show that we were able to put on. Now I have to try and bounce back on the next round in Finland.”

2009 JWRC Rd.6 : Rally Poland, final results
Pos. No. Driver Car Total Time Diff 1st
1 37 K. ABBRING Renault Clio R3 3:35:05.2 0.0
2 38 M. PROKOP Citroen C2 Super 1600 3:36:15.4 +1:10.2
3 35 Y. BONATO Suzuki Swift Super 1600 3:40:39.7 +5:34.5
4 36 H. WEIJS Jr. Citroen C2 Super 1600 3:45:17.2 +10:12.0
5 33 S. BERTOLOTTI Suzuki Swift Super 1600 3:51:50.3 +16:45.1
6 59 R. TYPA Citroen C2 Super 1600 3:56:32.3 +21:27.1
7 34 L. GRIOTTI Renault Clio R3 4:00:53.6 +25:48.4
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