Suzuki crews get underway for final asphalt challenge of the year

The Rallye de France-Tour de Corse got underway this evening with a ceremonial start in the centre of Ajaccio, the birthplace of Napoleon and Corsica's picturesque capital.
The Suzuki SX4 WRCs of Toni Gardemeister and P-G Andersson were amongst the 71 crews that took the start in Place Foch, the scene of Suzuki's World Rally Championship debut with the SX4 WRC exactly one year ago.
Earlier in the day, both cars took part in the six-kilometre shakedown test, designed to finalise the settings needed for this complex asphalt event that comes less than one week after the finish of the previous sealed-surface round of the World Rally Championship in Spain. Suzuki has learnt many valuable lessons from that experience, and the drivers tested out some different solutions during the shakedown this morning, which took place between 0800 and 1200.
There are a number of differences between Spain and Corsica, notably to do with the surface and the character of the stages. The Corsican roads tend to be much more abrasive, and they also contain more twists and turns. With bumpier stages, the ride height tends to be a little higher than the settings used in Spain, and this was just one of the parameters tested during the morning before the cars prepared for the start ceremony.
The real action begins tomorrow with the first of 16 special stages that cover 359 competitive kilometres to the north and south of Ajaccio. The rally is scheduled to finish on Sunday afternoon at 14:20.

Car news - Suzuki SX4 WRC n.11 (Gardemeister), n.12 (Andersson):
Both drivers worked on adapting the SX4 WRC to Corsican stages during the shakedown, trying out different suspension and differential settings. Having started with the base asphalt set-up that was used in Spain, Gardemeister and Andersson gradually made their cars more specifically suited to the demands of Corsica. With the weather on the rally likely to be dry and warm, the drivers tried to conserve their allocation of hard compound Pirelli tyres - which are set to be the most popular choice on the event.
Thanks to the systematic work of the Suzuki drivers and engineers, the SX4 WRC is now well-prepared for the next three days. This event also marks the first-ever rally that the car is contesting for the second time, following its World Championship debut in Corsica with Nicolas Bernardi last year.
The Suzuki World Rally Team has consequently been able to refer to previous data for the first time, but the latest evolution of the SX4 WRC is very different to the car that took its first steps on the Mediterranean island 12 months ago. Having achieved impressive levels of reliability on recent events, Suzuki will once more focus on consistency over the next three days.

Driver news:
Toni Gardemeister: "I feel quite optimistic heading into this rally, even though I'm lacking some recent experience here. I completed the recce but not the rally in Corsica last year, but I think that it is an event that definitely suits our car better than Spain did. The really positive thing is that over the last few events we have achieved an impressive level of reliability, and I hope we continue that here. I quite like the stages and we carried out some useful work in the shakedown, so I think we can score points here provided we have no major problems. The conditions here can always be uncertain but if anything that helps us."

P-G Andersson: "We tried some softer front dampers during the shakedown, in order to improve the turn-in and eliminate understeer. It seemed to work quite well, although we will have to wait until the proper stages to find out really how effective this is. After going off in Spain my confidence is coming again, and I hope we can do a good job this time. I've got fond memories of Corsica from last year, as this is where I won the Junior World Rally Championship title."

Team news:
Shusuke Inagaki, Suzuki Team Director:
"The reputation of the Tour de Corse is well-known all over the world, so it will be a very big challenge for us - particularly as the opposition is extremely strong this year. Our goal is to continue the development work we started in Spain and improve the traction and handling of the SX4 WRC on this very varied event, which is also the final asphalt rally of the year."



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Rd.15 GB

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