Andersson underlines Suzuki SX4 WRC¹s reliability
Rally d¹Italia Sardegna (I), Sunday 17 May, day three (SS13-SS17)

P-G Andersson has ended the Rally d¹Italia Sardegna inside the top 10,following three days of faultless running for his SX4 WRC. Andersson ­ whoended up ninth ­ described his car as ³perfect² throughout the entire rally,with the SX4 WRC requiring nothing more than routine servicing at the end ofevery day. On the final stage he set an excellent sixth-fastest time tofinish the rally in style.

His team mate Toni Gardemeister was not so lucky, having retired from daytwo with broken suspension and failing to finish the final day. Nonetheless,the Suzuki World Rally Team achieved its key objective of improving thereliability of the SX4 WRC in every area, and building solid foundations for the future.

Sardinia is renowned as one of the toughest events on the World Rally Championship, because of its hard surfaces and sharp rocks. Conditions were made even more difficult this year by the unseasonably wet weather, whichcaused the road surfaces to degrade and exposed yet more sharp rocks. Despite these obstacles, P-G steered clear of trouble to end the rally justoutside the points, having proved that Suzuki¹s decision to put the accenton reliability during this event has paid off. Having learnt severalvaluable lessons for the future, the team is now feeling confident for thenext two rough gravel events in the Mediterranean: Greece and Turkey.

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

Toni Gardemeister¹s car developed an electrical glitch after the mid-morningservice that meant he was unable to finish the rally today, but Andersson¹scar was perfect from start to finish and again reported no problems at alltoday. Following a steep learning curve on the previous rally in Jordan, theSuzuki team had introduced several important new measures designed to enhance the underbody protection and improve the cooling on the SX4 WRC.These evolutions worked well, despite the extremely tough conditions ofSardinia, and further improvements are planned for the next round in Greece­ the legendary Acropolis Rally ­ which takes place in two weeks¹ time.

Driver news:
Toni Gardemeister: ³It¹s not been a perfect rally for us, but the mostimportant thing is that the team has completed lots of valuable developmentwork on the car and proved with P-G that we can have a good level ofreliability. It¹s always tough in your first year, but I think now we arereally beginning to turn a corner and make some solid progress. I havealways said that when the car is running reliably it can be a good package,and I think we have shown some potential on this rally. Of course there isplenty of work still to do but we are definitely on the right road.²

P-G Andersson: ³It¹s been a very tough rally for us but a good one: the carhas been perfect from start to finish and I have been very happy with it.We¹ve had no major problems despite the extremely challenging conditions,which made it very difficult to judge the correct pace, particularly underbraking. I hope now that we have got a good basis to work from for thefuture. I wasn¹t actually thinking much about points on this event: for allof us the priority was to get the car to the finish safely and I¹m verypleased that we have been able to do that.²

Team news:
Paul Wilding, Suzuki World Rally Team manager: ³This has been a verysatisfying rally for us as we achieved a lot of what we set out to do: totry to get the cars to the finish despite some very rough and challengingconditions. It¹s just a pity that we couldn¹t achieve this with both SX4WRCs, but we will be analysing what happened with Toni¹s car very carefully,and I¹m confident that we¹ll keep learning and improving into the future.I¹d like to thank all the team and drivers for a great job throughout theweekend.²

Final positions
1. S Loeb/D Elena 3hr 57min 17.2sec
2. M Hirvonen/J Lehtinen 3hr 57min 27.8sec
3. J-M Latvala/M Anttila 3hr 57min 32.5sec
4. G Galli/G Bernacchini 3hr 58min 59.7sec
5. D Sordo/M Marti 3hr 59min 22.8sec
6. C Atkinson/S Prevot 4hr 02min 25.8sec
7. H Solberg/C Menkerud 4hr 03min 18.2sec
8. U Aava/K Sikk 4hr 03min 38.5sec
9. P-G Andersson/J Andersson 4hr 05min 05.9sec
10 P Solberg/P Mills 4hr 06min 58.2sec

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