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Test Report #01 SX4 WRC moves on to European tests

Moving forth strongly in the preparations for the full-fledged entry in the 2008 World Rally Championship (WRC), SUZUKI in April started test-driving the SX4 WRC in Europe. Currently, the machine is driven extensively over rough gravel courses in southern France, testing its durability in road-surface conditions that are even tougher than the WRC events themselves. Although a few mechanical troubles and machine damages were discovered, the team reports “they were all within what was expected; overall, we didn’t encounter any serious setbacks.”

Despite the extreme roughness of the courses strewn with sharp rocks, the SX4 WRC has been highly controllable and is consistently setting a quick pace. The SX4 WRC is a fine example of SUZUKI’s basic car-building philosophy, the “driver-friendly design concept” which aims to ensure that even high-performance cars are, in many ways, quite easy-to-drive. This basic development concept has already been well-utilised in SUZUKI’s Super 1600 machines entered in the Junior World Rally Championship (JWRC; renamed the JRC [Junior Rally Championship] in 2007) – it was actually the Super 1600 cars’ winning of the 2004 JWRC Drivers’ Championship that firmly established the basic direction of SUZUKI’s rally machine development. Successful running on the ever-shifting rally course surfaces with quickly changing weather conditions requires machines that are truly driver-friendly and highly controllable in a wide range of situations – in other words, machines that can consistently deliver quick pace. The development of the SX4 WRC is continuing apace, with the goal of fully translating into rally advantages the fine driving qualities of the production SX4, a base vehicle highly recognised for its strong body rigidity, superb handling performance and excellent running stability.

More tests are scheduled in the days to come; most of them over courses in southern Europe which will more closely resemble the conditions the team will encounter in actual rally action. Tests over tarmac will also begin soon. All in the quest to impart into the SX4 WRC a running performance to allow everyone involved to await its ’08 WRC debut with great expectations.