Rd.8 Rallye de España

  • Country : Spain
  • Date : 1-4/10/2009
  • Road surface : tarmac
  • Total distance : 1299.13km

EVENT REPORT

Suzuki on the podium in the Junior World Rally Championship

At the end of the final event of the 2009 Junior World Rally Championship, the Rallye de España from October 1-4, the Suzuki Swift Super 1600 has not only finished on the podium, but also claimed two of the top three places in the overall championship standings.

Italian driver Simone Bertolotti was second in Spain, to claim sixth in the championship standings at the end of the year with the same number of points as the fifth-placed finisher. However, two wins earlier this season – in Portugal and Argentina – have given the absent Michal Kosciuszko second place in the final Junior World Championship rankings. The Polish driver, who chose not to nominate the Rallye de España as one of his scoring rounds, just missed out on the title by four points this year. Occupying third place in the championship at the end of the year is Germany’s Aaron Burkart, who was fifth in Spain.

As has been the case throughout the year, the Suzuki Swift Super 1600 was right on the pace from the start to the finish of the Rallye de España, demonstrating an impressive level of reliability on the fastest asphalt event of the year. Temperatures were warm on all three days of the Spanish event, peaking at 30 degrees Centigrade.

About the Rallye de España:

The Rallye de España is characterised by wide and sweeping asphalt roads, which make the rally more like a circuit racing. Pace notes are extremely important on this event, in order to describe the quickest racing line through all the corners and where it is safe to cut. For the two-wheel drive cars, such as the Suzuki Swift Super 1600, asphalt rallies are even more challenging because the four-wheel drive cars that run at the front of the field leave plenty of mud and gravel on the road while cutting corners. With less traction than their four-wheel drive equivalents, total commitment is needed to drive Super 1600 cars quickly on sealed surfaces.

This year’s Rallye de España, based once more in Salou to the south of Barcelona, adopted exactly the same route as it did in 2008. In total, crews tackled 353.62 competitive kilometres divided over three days and 18 sealed-surface stages.

Suzuki entries on the Rallye de España:

Two Suzuki Swift Super 1600s took the ceremonial start of the Rallye de España in Salou town centre last Thursday night. First off the Junior World Rally Championship start ramp was the Suzuki of Aaron Burkart/Michael Kolbach (number 31). He was followed off the ramp by the similar car of Simone Bertolotti/Luca Celestini (number 33). Also competing in Spain was the Group N Suzuki Swift Sport of Italian driver Paolo Semeraro (number 117).

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

Simone, who began rallying in 2003, finished third in Spain to match his best-ever JWRC result, scored in Ireland at the beginning of the season. He had no problems at all throughout the event and was challenging for a podium from the very start. Throughout the season he has shown admirable consistency, finishing in the points on every event that he has entered and claiming two podiums.

“I’ve really enjoyed this rally and we’ve had no major problems at all from start to finish: our Suzuki is fantastic to drive! I’ve been impressed throughout the season by both the car’s performance and its reliability. This is very important, as my objective at the start of the year was simply to gain experience, which is what I need to improve my skills. To come away from the season in the top six of the championship and with two podiums is a great achievement, and I look forward to capitalising on all the lessons I have learned next year.”

Aaron Burkart
News from Aaron Burkart (D)
  • Born 20 September 1982
  • Co-driver: Michael Kolbach (D)

Burkart – the winner of the JWRC’s opening round in Ireland, which was also the last event held on asphalt – charged quickly onto the podium in Spain at the end of the opening day, despite a huge moment on the first stage. He was forced to withdraw on the second stage of day two, when he encountered a suspension problem. He re-started under the final day under the SupeRally rules to record a fifth place finish, having run safely to the end.

“Finishing in the top three of any championship is a good result, so I can look back on a very positive season after my first year with Suzuki. Rallye de España was not a great event for us as we started with a huge moment on the very first stage when I was convinced that we would roll. On the second day, we had the problem with the suspensions. Our priority on the final day was to get the car to the finish and score some points: thankfully we succeeded and we were able to finish a successful year on a high note.”

2009 JWRC Rd.8 : Rallye de España, final results
Pos. No. Driver Car Total Time Diff 1st
1 36 H. WEIJS Jr. Citroen C2 Super 1600 3:40:35.5 0.0
2 33 S. BERTOLOTTI Suzuki Swift Super 1600 3:45:24.6 +4:49.1
3 59 J. MARTI Renault Clio R3 3:46:58.3 +6:22.8
4 37 K. ABBRING Renault Clio R3 3:55:38.1 +15:02.6
5 31 A. BURKART Suzuki Swift Super 1600 4:06:48.5 +26:13.0
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