Suzukis finish day one safely as the World Rally adventure begins
Andersson at Rally Monte Carlo - Day 1

Suzuki's first full season of the World Rally Championship got underway with the two SX4WRCs of Toni Gardemeister and P-G Andersson crossing the start ramp at Valence this evening before facing two tricky special stages in the dark. Having set top-10 times during both stages, Gardemeister finishes the opening day in a provisional points-scoring eighth place. Following the first 21 kilometres of the event and his World Rally Car career, P-G Andersson is 12th - despite completing most of the action with just two-wheel drive.

The opening stage, the 28.12 kilometres of St Jean en Royans - Col de la Chau, was extremely fast and slippery, due to snow that had melted during the day and turned to ice in the cool temperatures. The second stage was more technical, suiting the SX4 WRC better on only its third-ever rally. The Suzuki SX4 WRCs also had to deal with a lot of loose snow pulled onto the road by previous cars, having started the rally eighth and 10th on the road.

Car news - Suzuki SX4 WRC n.11 (Gardemeister), n.12 (Andersson):

Gardemeister had difficulty hearing his pace notes over the first couple of stages because of intermittent intercom problems. He ended the opening stage eighth and was in the top 10 once more on SS2, fulfilling his prediction so far that it would be possible for Suzuki to finish its first proper event with the SX4 WRC in the points.

Andersson got off to a flying start but had a driveshaft break after 14 kilometres, ending the opening stage in 11th overall. He had to complete the slippery stage with just two-wheel drive, and the problem persisted during the second stage as well. With both cars having safely made it through the opening day, they were prepared for a full day of action starting at 06:50 tomorrow at the service park in Valence.

Driver news:
Toni Gardemeister: "We had a few small problems but despite this we've come to the end of the first day in the points. This is a brand new car and there is a lot of development still to come, but I'm happy. It's clear that the potential is all there, and I'm going to keep pushing tomorrow."

P G Andersson: "It's been an eventful first day! The driveshaft broke after 14 kilometres, meaning that it was really difficult to find traction on the ice with just two-wheel drive. I'm actually quite surprised by our position: I thought that we would have dropped more time than we did."

Team news:
Nobuhiro Tajima, Suzuki World Rally Team principal: "I am very happy indeed with our performance so far: to be in a provisional points-scoring place in our first proper rally is a great achievement. It's only been 53 days since our final test event on Rally Great Britain last year: in the space of that short time we have put together a whole new driver line-up and expanded the team rapidly. I'd like to say a big "thank you" to everyone for their hard work, which has put us in this very encouraging position at the start of our first rally. Step by step, we'll keep working to improve."

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