Hallinta Hoop, 6.12.2008
Hallinta Hoop, 6.12.2008
With just one day of this year's World Rally Championship remaining, both the factory Suzuki SX4 WRCs are in the points and are set to finish the team's debut season on a high. P-G Andersson is currently fifth while Toni Gardemeister is eighth, with neither car encountering any problems throughout the day's seven stages.
In contrast to the interruptions on the opening day, Saturday's stages all ran according to plan, with the crews completing the 129.21 competitive kilometres scheduled. Another difference compared to the first day was the fact that Saturday's stages were all well-known to most of the crews, having traditionally formed part of the Rally Great Britain route in recent years. Amongst the highlights of the day were two runs over the longest stage of the rally - Resolfen - which contained all the hazards Rally Great Britain is best known for: variable grip, bad weather and tricky corners. Conditions were once again cold but dry, with mud making the stages slippery. The action ended with a short superspecial stage in Cardiff's Millennium Stadium, held entirely under cover.
Neither of the Suzuki SX4 WRCs gave any cause for concern throughout the seven stages that were run today, enhancing Suzuki's reputation for strength and reliability. Once more, the car showed itself capable of setting top five stage times, underlining the progress that has been made throughout the season. However, with the road conditions degrading considerably, particularly during the second run through the stages in the afternoon, it was hard for the Suzuki drivers to improve on their impressive pace during the opening day, when P-G Andersson put an SX4 WRC on the provisional podium for the first time.
Toni Gardemeister: "Today has been a very tough day: typical Rally Great Britain. We've had quite a good run and managed to set some decent times, particularly on the first stage, but maybe I was a bit too cautious sometimes as well. On the final stage before service the engine stopped, but it was just a small problem that we fixed at service. Now we have to keep concentrated and make sure that we avoid making any mistakes on the final day tomorrow - but we need some bad conditions to help us as well."
Suzuki Team Director Shusuke Inagaki: "We always knew that today would be more difficult for us than yesterday but we have succeeded in our main objective, which is to bring two cars safely to the finish, ready for the final push tomorrow. The last day of the rally is nearly as long as the preceding two days, so anything can still happen. With both cars in a points-scoring position, we are well placed to end the season on a positive note, providing we steer clear of trouble."