Suzuki climbs tricky learning curve in Argentina
It has been another tough day for the Suzuki World Rally Team in Argentina, the fourth round of this year’s World Rally Championship. The mud of the opening day continued to characterise the second leg of the all-gravel event, putting traction and grip at a premium in the slippery conditions. Both Suzuki SX4 WRCs re-started day two under the super rally system, with P-G Andersson setting times within the top 10 throughout most of the day. Unfortunately, his consistent run was halted by a suspension breakage on the rough surfaces of SS14.

Toni Gardemeister had an assortment of different problems throughout the day: in the morning he had only two-wheel drive, while a hydraulic glitch deprived him of the centre differential, semi-automatic gearshift and power steering during the afternoon. He chose to retire after SS15 in order to re-join the final day under the super rally system and be sure of reaching the finish of the event.

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

Suzuki continued to climb a steep learning curve in Argentina, on the occasion of the team’s first visit to the event with the SX4 WRC. Nonetheless, Andersson had a trouble-free run throughout the morning stages to indicate that the engine problems suffered by the team in Mexico appear to have been resolved. On the final stage of the morning the Swede damaged his car’s steering against a stone, but this did not cost him much time. However, the Rally Argentina’s rough terrain eventually forced his retirement from the second day on SS14 in the afternoon.

Toni Gardemeister had to battle with drivetrain and hydraulic problems, but the aim is for both cars to re-join the event under the super rally system tomorrow in order to complete as many test kilometres as possible. The savage conditions of Argentina have taken their toll on the entire field, with several of the top runners forced onto the sidelines.

Driver news:
Toni Gardemeister: “We’ve not had an easy run of things today. We were just a few hundred metres into the first stage this morning when we lost drive at the front. We obviously then lost a lot of time as we had only two-wheel drive. That problem was fixed at service, but next we had another issue with the hydraulic system. We have to remember that this is just the fourth rally of our first full season with the SX4 WRC, so it’s normal to expect a few problems. The important thing is just to try and fix them and move on. Hopefully we can have a good day tomorrow, and show a little bit more of our potential.”

P-G Andersson: “Conditions have been extremely tough throughout this rally: it’s probably the biggest challenge of the year we have faced so far. I enjoyed the morning stages: we had no real problems with the car, although I am feeling my inexperience a little bit. The roads were even rougher on the second passage through the stages in the afternoon, and unfortunately we broke the suspension. That’s life, but we’ll start again tomorrow with the aim of learning as much as possible.”

Team news:
Nobuhiro Tajima, Suzuki World Rally Team principal: “This has been a very hard day for us. I feel very sorry for both drivers. Hopefully we can get everything fixed to ensure that they have a trouble-free day tomorrow. It is bad luck for Toni and P-G: with the conditions as rough as they are, he is one of many drivers that have retired with suspension breakages. We need to cover as many kilometres as possible, so we want to send both cars out under the super rally system tomorrow. It is only by fixing all the problems as they arise that we will improve. Of course the road to success is a difficult and challenging one – but we already knew that before we embarked on our first full season this year.”

Results after day two
1. Loeb / Elena 3h 28m 16.5s
2. Solberg / Mills +1m 19.6s
3. Atkinson / Prevot +2m 08.5s
4. Sordo / Marti +3m 32.3s
5. Rautenbach / Senior +18m 00.1s
6. Hirvonen / Lehtinen+24m 44.5s
7. Aigner / Wicha +25m 27.2s
8. Villlagra / Perez Companc +25m 53.4s
9. Al-Attiyah / Patterson +26m 18.3s
10. Beltran / Rojas +26m 33.9s

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