The Suzuki World Rally Team has finished its debut World Rally Championship season with the SX4 WRC on a high note, equalling the team's best-ever result.
Up-and-coming Swede P-G Andersson was fifth at the end of the Wales Rally GB, matching the result he obtained on the Rally Japan last month.
Toni Gardemeister was seventh, ensuring that the team placed both cars in the drivers' and manufacturers' points for the second consecutive event.
It was a very positive conclusion to a season that has seen Suzuki steadily climb a steep learning curve, underlining the SX4 WRC's pace and reliability.
The final day of the Wales Rally GB consisted of two loops of two stagestotalling 96.10 kilometres, with service at Swansea in between them. Thefinish, watched by thousands of fans, took place in the Welsh capital ofCardiff. With temperatures that dipped as low as minus six degreescentigrade overnight, there was plenty of frost and ice on the roads.Nonetheless, neither driver put a foot wrong in the tricky conditions.Andersson was able to maintain the fifth place that he started the day with,while Gardemeister made up one position to finish seventh.
Car news - Suzuki SX4 WRC n.11 (Gardemeister), n.12 (Andersson):
Both the Suzuki SX4 WRCs were completely reliable throughout all three daysof the rally, highlighting the car's reputation for strength and durabilityin some of the most inhospitable conditions seen all year. The driversprogressively adjusted the SX4 WRC's suspension set-up to cope with the softroads today, but with such a wide variety of conditions it was mostly aquestion of identifying the best compromise. Despite the challenging stages,the car showed that it was capable of setting some top-five times over thecourse of the rally - with Andersson finishing day one on the provisionalpodium.
Both drivers concentrated just on reaching the finish during the final legtoday, although Gardemeister had a slight impact with a bank after slidingon a patch of ice on the day's second stage. P-G enjoyed a solid run to thefinish, having steered clear of trouble throughout the four slippery stagesthat concluded the 2008 World Rally Championship season.
Toni Gardemeister: "Generally speaking there has been a surprising amount ofgrip today; when I opened the curtains and saw the frost this morning Ithought that it would be much worse. However, we still found a patch of iceon SS17 and I had to go up the bank, otherwise we would have been off theroad. Apart from that we had no real problems at all and I'm pleased to endthe season with a points finish. It's very clear that we've improved the SX4WRC a lot throughout the year in terms of both speed and reliability."
P-G Andersson: "It's been a really good rally for me, and the highlight wasobviously finishing the first day in third overall. Today we had a big gapto the car in front so it was more a question of maintaining our positionand luckily the conditions were a little more consistent than they wereyesterday, so that helped us. We've had no problems at all during all threedays and equalled our best ever result here despite the tricky weather, soit's an extremely positive way to end the season."
Suzuki World Rally Team Director Shusuke Inagaki: "The Wales Rally GreatBritain is renowned for providing an extremely tough challenge, butconditions this year have been even worse than anticipated. Nonetheless, ourcars have been extremely reliable and our drivers have kept them on theroad. As a result, we have once more brought both the SX4 WRCs home in thepoints without problems for the second consecutive time. This is a sign ofthe very real progress we have made, and I would like to thank everybody inthe team for all their efforts over the course of the season."