Suzuki battle keeps the fans on the edge of their seats
Toni Gardemeister ended day one of Rally Finland in 10th position.

The first leg of the event known as the ‘Finnish Grand Prix’ took the crews out to the west of the rally’s base in Jyvaskyla for nine long tests and one final run around the Killeri superspecial stage. After warm summer sunshine throughout the recce and shakedown for the event, rain and damp conditions greeted the drivers as they headed out of service for Vellipohja, the morning’s opener. Both Suzuki SX4 WRCs featured at the front of the field, with P-G Andersson and Toni Gardemeister scrapping over points-paying positions; the tense battle between the brace of SX4 WRCs was one of the features of the opening day.

Car news – Suzuki SX4 WRC n.11 (Gardemeister), n.12 (Andersson):
Both Suzukis ran without fault throughout this opening leg. The drivers were particularly pleased with the transmission and hydraulic systems, following all of the work done by Suzuki over the summer on the cars. Both drivers spent time off the road as they pushed their SX4 WRCs to the limit on the fastest roads the World Rally Championship has on offer. Andersson span his car on the day’s opening test at the cost of 25 seconds. Gardemeister went off on stage seven, but both Suzukis remained on track to end the day with strong placings of 8th and 10th.

Driver news:
Toni Gardemeister: “When we went off in the second run through Palsankyla this afternoon. It was a very, very big moment for us. I would say we went off the road at about 180kp/h – incredible! I really thought we were going to roll. We collected a puncture on the left-rear tyre which was there for the rest of the stage and I hurt my right shoulder in the impact. It was bad. Otherwise, the car has been good. It’s a fantastic fight between myself and P-G and the best thing is that we’re both in the top 10!”

P-G Andersson: “The SX4 WRC has been great today. We’ve had no problems. Given the testing we did, we’ve got a very good set-up with the car. We had a small problem in the second loop, when the back of the car was kicking up a little bit in the ruts and jumps, but the team was soon able to rectify that at service. After that, it was very good and we were able to close on Toni. The spin this morning was frustrating. We hit some water a couple of kilometers into the test, that pulled the wheel in and spun us into the ditch. The car was in the ditch. And facing the wrong direction. It cost us about 25s to get the car out and turned around, but we’re in the points – and that’s all that matters.”

Team news:
Paul Wilding, Suzuki World Rally Team manager: “Suzuki has had a very strong day with the two SX4 WRCs in the top 10 at the end of the opening leg. This is a good reflection on the work which Suzuki has been doing on the SX4 WRC for the duration of the summer. Finland is an event which is all about performance and that’s what Suzuki has been working on recently. To be in this position so early in the event is very, very positive.”

Day 1 Leaderboard
1. S Loeb/D Elena 1h04m57.9ss
2. M Hirvonen/J Lehtinen +14.4s
3. H Solberg/C Menkerud +53.1s
4. G Galli/G Bernacchini +56.2s
5. D Sordo/M Marti +1m05.4s
6. P Solberg/P Mills +1m37.8s
7. C Atkinson/S Prevot +1m41.1s
8. P G Andersson/J Andersson +2m20.4s
9. M Rantanen/J Löengren +2m27.2s
10. T Gardemeister/T Tuominen +2m26.6s

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