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Safe start for Suzuki at Swedish Rally superspecial
The Swedish Rally - round two of the World Rally Championship - got underway this evening with one lap of the 1.9 kilometre spectator superspecial stage on the trotting track just outside Karlstad.
Suzuki SX4 WRC driver Toni Gardemeister set nine fastest time, while his team mate
P-G Andersson - who claimed Suzuki's debut points finish in Monte Carlo - was seventh quickest. Neither of the Suzuki drivers reported any problems.
The spectator superspecial, where cars race side by side against each other, consisted of an icy surface with some mud and gravel. Tomorrow the real action starts with six more special stages that should feature more of the snow that Sweden is renowned for. Friday's action concludes with a final run through the Karlstad superspecial.
This morning both Suzuki SX4 WRC drivers completed the short shakedown stage near the service park in Karlstad: a last-minute opportunity to refine settings before the start of the rally. Andersson was ninth-quickest of all the drivers in the shakedown, with Gardemeister less than a second behind him.

Car news - Suzuki SX4 WRC n.11 (Gardemeister), n.12 (Andersson):
Both of the cars performed reliably throughout the shakedown stage and the superspecial, but this was only a taste of the real action still to follow. With the cars having completed a snow test in northern Sweden just under a month ago, the shakedown was an opportunity to see how it reacted in conditions with less than full snow, and adjust the set-up accordingly. Neither driver chose to make major changes to their SX4 WRC though in the shakedown, preferring to wait and see how the conditions developed throughout the first full day. The local weather forecast predicts the possibility of more snow tonight, which could make the stage conditions similar to the full snow that the drivers experienced during testing.

Driver news:
Toni Gardemeister: "So far everything has gone well and there was a good crowd watching us at the superspecial. Weather conditions today have not been so nice but tomorrow the stages are further north so hopefully we should have some proper Swedish roads covered in snow."
P-G Andersson: "Being my home rally, there has been even more attention from the media than I expected; our service area has been busy all day with lots of fans cheering us on. Conditions aren't easy but of course I'm going to be trying my best. The car feels good but there is not much we can conclude from today, so let's see what happens tomorrow."

Team news:
Nobuhiro Tajima, Suzuki World Rally Team principal: "Sweden will be even more of a challenging event for us than Monte Carlo, and the conditions are so mixed that I think we will see a bit of everything. In Monte Carlo we had asphalt, here we have some snow, some ice and some gravel. Under these tricky circumstances, it is best for our drivers to be careful and make sure that they finish the rally, so that we can continue the good work that we have already started this year"
Suzuki World Rally Team


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