Suzuki heads south to the Pampas
The Rally Argentina provides a vivid contrast to Rally Mexico, the lastround of the World Championship held in South America nearly a month ago.Competitors will swap the heat and rocks of Mexico for cooler weather andsofter gravel surfaces near the city of Cordoba, about 700 km northwest ofArgentina’s capital Buenos Aires. Suzuki will also be hoping for a change infortunes following a premature end to the Rally Mexico, in which P-GAndersson ran as high as sixth overall. His team mate Toni Gardemeisternotched up his 100th rally in Mexico, and in Argentina the Finn celebratesanother important anniversary: his 33rd birthday that takes place the dayafter the rally.

Argentina is one of the most spectacular events of the season, featuringdramatic stages at high altitudes and stunning scenery – including several crests and watersplashes. The weather in the southern hemisphere at this time of year is autumnal, so rain, mist and fog are a strong possibility. The surfaces can be soft and sandy, testing traction and grip to the utmost. As was the case in Mexico, the high altitudes will also sap up to 25 percent of the power from the engines on classic mountain stages such as GiulioCesare and El Condor.

With its lunar landscapes and enthusiastic local crowd, Argentina is a realhighlight of the World Rally Championship. There is a brand new spectator superspecial for this year at Cordoba stadium, which concludes each day ofthe rally. In total, the action consists of 21 special stages comprising 347.91 competitive kilometres. For more information:

Car news – Suzuki SX4 WRC n.11 (Gardemeister) and n.12 (Andersson):

Rally Argentina presents several unique challenges, and the Suzuki SX4 WRChas been carefully adapted to rise to the occasion. The characteristic watersplashes that punctuate the route can damage the car and drown the engine, so the SX4 WRC’s front bodywork has been specially modified in orderto prevent this happening by dispersing the water more quickly and effectively.

The engines have also been modified in order to increase reliability and durability in the tough conditions. Suzuki has only one previous outing in Argentina, on the Junior World Rally Championship in 2006 with the Swift. Onthat occasion, the car won the class – but competing with a cutting-edge World Rally Car is a very different proposition.

Although the surfaces are mostly soft, there is a lot of variation in the amount of grip available. As Suzuki has no previous experience of runningwith a World Rally Car in Argentina, the event shakedown will be a vital opportunity to establish settings for a wide range of different conditions.Under the latest tyre rules, Suzuki (along with all the other manufacturers)will use Pirelli’s new hard compound Scorpion tyre in Argentina – but in thecool conditions it may prove tricky to generate enough heat in the rubberduring some stages.

Driver news:
Toni Gardemeister has some previous experience of the Rally Argentina,having competed on the rally four times with a best result of fourth in2005. However, he has not been to Argentina since then – although the Finnhas always enjoyed a good feeling with the fast and flowing stages. Afterscoring a point for Suzuki on the Swedish Rally last month, Gardemeisteraims to increase his total over the rolling pampas of Argentina. “I havebeen feeling quite ill the week before the event, so it’s not been a perfectstart,” said Gardemeister. “However, I like Argentina very much and I’m looking forward to going back there after a two-year gap. Many of the stagesare quite similar, so I’m hoping that this will not be too much of adisadvantage. There are lots of things that can catch people out, so bydriving carefully and keeping out of trouble there’s a very good chance of scoring some useful points. Reliability is going to be the key, and therecould be some surprises from the weather as well.”

Since the start of the season P-G Andersson has demonstrated that he is morethan capable of keeping pace with the front runners, despite the fact that Argentina will only be the young Swede’s fourth rally in a World Rally Car.When he retired from Mexico he was running sixth overall, and P‑G’s aim isto continue where he left off. “That’s the plan,” he said. “I’ve only beento Argentina once before, in 2005, so this will be another very big learning experience for me – although I’m getting used to that now. The surfaces arequite specialised, so one of our biggest challenges will be to adapt the carto them quickly. The other big challenge will be staying on the road, as itis a very fast and slippery event in places!”

Team news:
Having investigated the engine problems in Mexico, the entire Suzuki team isdetermined to bounce back and continue the run of success that saw it scorepoints on every round of the championship up until then. The Suzuki WorldRally Team’s equipment has been transported from Mexico to Argentina in thethree weeks since the last event, and new engines have already been sentfrom Japan.

Another new arrival in the squad is Paul Wilding, who becomes team manager.Having managed Suzuki’s Junior World Championship campaign in recent years, the Australian is a familiar face with plenty of experience in the role.

Nobuhiro ‘Monster’ Tajima, Suzuki’s team principal, said: “Argentina isrenowned as a very tough event, where the soft ground can often hide somebig stones. Since Mexico we have improved the reliability of the engine, sowe are aiming to get to the finish in Argentina in order to learn more aboutthe car and what is needed to achieve success at the highest level. Thepriority for both drivers is to get to the end: if we can score some pointsas well it would be a very welcome bonus.”

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