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Test Report #03 The last spurt for Monte Carlo, The debut stage of the 2008 WRC.

The last test in the year 2007 has finished. This is just a brief note to let you know how it went.

The twisty test roads were located in the French Alps, about 100km west of the Mont Blanc which is known as the highest peak in the European Alps. Chilly air of this bitter winter greeted us in the first day of the test on 18th December. The thermometer stood under minus 10 degrees Celsius every morning. Grassy shoulder of the road was frosted. Then snow replaced the frost as the altitude increases. The surface of the asphalt got icy in the morning and late evening. Sometimes deep fog covered the forest and also the sky was clouded over. Anyway, it was indeed dark and cold.

Two pairs of crews have driven the SX4 WRC on the winding lane during the four days of the test. One of the drivers is Toni Gardemeister co-driven by Tomi tuominen and the other is P-G Andersson navigated by Jonas Andersson. They are the starring actors who will drive the WR car in the SUZUKI World Rally Team in coming year.

Why we did such test runs in the gloomy woods in the mountain though it just has been in the high season of winter sports in another side of the Alps before Christmas? –The answer is simple. We needed to do it as the preparation for the Rally Monte Carlo in coming January, the first round of the World Rally Championship 2008. There are only three weeks left before the rally week of the Rally Monte Carlo excluding the Christmas holidays, so we had to bring the SX4 WRC to completion during this test. In fact our engineers have found many hints to develop through running the car on the similar road in the similar condition to the actual event of the WRC.

P-G Andersson drove the SX4 WRC for the first time on 18th, the first day of this test. The road condition was dry. After finished the run testing the feeling from the car, P-G told excitedly as follows: “I’m really thrilled with driving a World Rally car for the first time in my life. Before getting into the car, I was a little bit nervous. But after starting it, it was truly easy to drive and I enjoyed driving so much. Moreover I have been relaxed in the car. I’m now confident that we will win a good position in the championship with the SX4 WRC in the near future. I would like to improve my driving by a lot of practices to compete in the WRC.” We expect this youngster who won the Junior World Rally Championship twice with SUZUKI IGNIS/SWIFT Super1600 will show us the best performance of him in the year 2008.

On the other hand, Toni has some experience of driving the SX4 WRC. “It’s been a while since I drove it. This time I realized the potential of the SX4 WRC. I’m really interested in improving this car to the highest level of the WR car. Many ideas occur to me when I think about how I can develop it. That is so exciting that sometimes I forget to sleep. I’m looking forward to the debut at Monte Carlo.” Toni commented with a confident smile. It is encouraging to hear that he evaluates the car high based on his accumulated knowledge through participation in the WRC for 90 times. By the way, how does he feel about this environment that Japanese staff takes the leading roles in the development? –He smiled and answered: “We have worked together and watched how each other do their jobs. Then I conclude we, crews, Japanese engineers, other engineers and staff can work together with no problem!” His word is worth because, as you know, trusting relationship and good communication make a team strong.

Nobuhiro Tajima, the team principal, also attended the test. “We have made a respectable showing. We recognize little time is left, but we’ll make the maximum use of it to work out. I have the highest regard for my team.” He said with satisfaction. “Toni has great experience and know-how in development. At the same time, he is a kind and responsible person. I’m counting on him. Also, I’m counting on P-G since I have seen his growth through the JWRC for four years. I hope he will grow more professionally in the WRC. I expect the SX4 WRC driven by Toni and P-G to be a storm’s eye in coming year.” He smiled. He also remarked concerning team organization as follows: “We have reorganized the team for the WRC activities in 2008. So, this test is the first time to operate the new system. It turned out all right. The technical director and main engineers has attended this test from Japan to take leading roles during this session. They worked well. I’m sure different people from different cultures are able to buckle down as one team to contest for the championship because the WRC is the number-one motor rally event in the world.”

Please look forward to see the performance our SX4 WRC will show you at Monte Carlo.