Great Britain - Suzuki World Rally Team - Shakedown
The Suzuki World Rally Team of Toni Gardemeister and P-G Andersson began the Rally GB, the final round of this year's World Rally Championship, with a ceremonial start in the capital of Wales, Cardiff. Both SX4 WRCs drove
over the ramp in the city centre, watched by thousands of fans and the world's media.
However, the real action only gets underway tomorrow, with the first of 19 all-gravel special stages - which are being used for the first time since 2001. As ever, the biggest question mark over the British event, which traditionally closes the World Rally Championship calendar, is the weather.
Low temperatures have been predicted, which could lead to frost or even snow. Heavy rain is also a distinct possibility - meaning that the soft road surfaces are likely to be extremely slippery.
Nonetheless, Gardemeister and Andersson aim to use the difficult conditions to their advantage, with the goal of placing both SX4 WRCs inside the points as they did on Rally Japan one month ago.
Both cars completed the short shakedown stage this morning near Swansea, west of Cardiff: a last-minute opportunity to finalise settings and evaluate tyres.
The SX4 WRCs started the shakedown with the same set-up as they did in Japan, plus one or two minor modifications. The drivers were satisfied with the work completed, which consisted mostly of adjusting suspension settings and adapting the engine mapping to the unique Welsh conditions.
Neither of the cars encountered any problems during the shakedown, and both drivers are feeling confident ahead of tomorrow's first stage at 09:08.
"The conditions here will be difficult for sure, but I am hoping we can use them to our advantage. When the weather is really bad, it is always a little bit more equal so it gives us a better opportunity. The shakedown today was good and we had no problems; I just changed the anti-lag setting on the turbo as it was a bit aggressive at first. Now I think we are in good shape but we will only know for definite tomorrow, which will be a very big test for everybody."
"After Japan there is a really good feeling in the team and we hope to do well here on the Rally GB as well. Certainly we've got off to a good start with no problems at all during the shakedown and it was nice to see all the fans out at the ceremonial start. I've always liked Rally GB and the fact that nobody starts with any sort of advantage in terms of experience tomorrow will hopefully help me."