Suzuki SX4 WRCs in points positions at the end of Rally NZ day one
Both Suzuki SX4 WRCs held top-10 positions at the end of an impressive opening day of Rally New Zealand for drivers P-G Andersson and Toni Gardemeister. Swede Andersson was never out of the top-10 fastest times on the long stages out west of the rally's base in Hamilton. In SS2.2, Andersson was fifth fastest, just 4.2 seconds off the fastest time - a feat he repeated on the day's final stage at Mystery Creek. His team-mate Gardemeister (Finland) was disappointed when he dropped more than a minute in the first stage of the day due to a puncture, but he battled back to move and incredible 14 places up the leaderboard by the close of play. The torrential rain ahead of the event had washed a section of the Waitomo stage away, forcing the organisers to split the stage in two in order to avoid the worst affected area. Despite the terrible weather ahead of the event, the entire opening leg was run in glorious sunshine, with temperatures closing on 20 degrees in this southern hemisphere winter.

Car news - Suzuki SX4 WRC n.11 (Gardemeister), n.12 (Andersson):
Both cars ran without any technical fault through the opening day's 138 kilometers of flat-out action. Gardemeister's only trouble was his SS1 deflation on the right-rear tyre. Both Toni and P-G worked on the set-up of their SX4 WRC at the lunchtime service halt, softening the car in order to try and find more traction on the gravel-strewn North Island roads.

Driver news:
Toni Gardemeister: "This morning was disappointing for me. I really wanted a good run here and had a nice feeling, but then we got the puncture. After that, the rest of the day has been good. No problems. The car has been running well, but the conditions have been tough this morning. Running through the stages the second time, the line is looking cleaner which is helping to give us more traction."

P-G Andersson: "The first stage was really tough, it was a bit of a surprise. The car was much too hard and this was combined with the driving been too bad. The tyre was too hard for the conditions, but this is the same for everybody, so we don't have to think about this. We came out of the first stage and made some changes to the suspension on the car - we softened it as much as we could. This helped in the second stage and then in the third, everything was going really well. I found the re-run of Pirongia West (SS4) quite hard, I couldn't find a rhythm in the stage. It's been a good day today, though. The car has been perfect and we're in the best position possible. Now we have to stay there."

Team news:
Paul Wilding, Suzuki World Rally Team manager: "Without Toni's puncture this morning, this would have been pretty much the perfect day for the team. Neither car has had any kind of a problem, which is really satisfying for Suzuki after all the hard work, which has been put in on the SX4 WRC. Tomorrow's stages are a bit faster and more flowing, so we're looking forward to some more trouble-free and fast running from both P-G and Toni."

Day 1 Leaderboard
1. M Hirvonen/J Lehtinen 1h34m44.3sec
2. S Loeb/D Elena +27.8s
3. D Sordo/M Marti +30.0s
4. J-M Latvala/M Anttila +30.1s
5. F Duval/P Pivato +1m27.9s
6. U Aava/K Sikk +2m01.3s
7. P Solberg/P Mills +2m25.8s
8. P-G Andersson/J Andersson +2m50.5s
9. T Gardemeister/T Tuominen +3m48.0s
10. F Vilagra/J Perez Companc +4m47.5s

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