Suzuki World Rally Team

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Suzuki Sport
MEX 2008 RB 12 service 1.jpg
Full name Suzuki World Rally Team
Team principal(s) Nobuhiro Tajima[1]
Technical director Shusuke Inagaki[2]
Chassis Suzuki SX4
Tyres Pirelli
World Rally Championship career
Debut 2007 Tour de Corse[3]

The Suzuki World Rally Team, also known as the Suzuki WRC Challenge is Suzuki's factory backed World Rally Championship team, as part of the Suzuki Sport organization. The team debuted for the first time at the 2007 Tour de Corse in France.[4] After just one full season in 2008, in which the team finished fifth in the manufacturers' championship, Suzuki announced that they would be pulling out of the WRC[5]. The decision was attributed to falling car sales caused by the economic crisis, although reports had surfaced that Suzuki were ready to abandon its WRC program before the economic downturn began[6].



Testing of the Suzuki SX4 WRC car was conducted in Japan in February 2007, before relocating to Europe in March.[7] Gravel testing was undertaken in Southern France in April.[8]

The Suzuki SX4 WRC made a competitive debut in Corsica, at the 2007 Tour de Corse, driven by Nicolas Bernardi and co-driver Jean-Marc Fortin, and set several stage times just outside of the top ten.[3][9] The team also participated in 2007 Rally GB with driver Sebastian Lindholm and co-driver Tomi Tuominen.[4]


Toni Gardemeister at the 2008 Tour de Corse.

Drivers for the 2008 season were announced Monday, December 17th, to be Toni Gardemeister and Per-Gunnar Andersson.[10] Technical Director Michel Nandan has been replaced by Shusuke Inagaki and Akira Kawada has been appointed as team manager.[2]

Suzuki scored on their proper debut with Andersson finishing eighth in the 2008 Monte Carlo Rally, with Suzuki getting two points in the manufacturers' title race. In the 2008 Swedish Rally, Gardemeister finished seventh, earning Suzuki three more manufacturers' points.[11] Both of these early races were marred by engine damage due to faulty head gaskets, with Gardemeister retiring from the Monte Carlo Rally and Andersson retiring from the Swedish Rally.[12]

After struggling with reliability issues for several rallies, Suzuki achieved their best result in New Zealand, with Andersson finishing sixth and Gardemeister seventh. At their home event, the 2008 Rally Japan, the team did even better and took fifth and sixth places. During a super special stage in the Sapporo Dome, Gardemeister also gave Suzuki and the SX4 WRC their first stage win.



External links