Rally New Zealand is round four of the World Championship, and although it is not part of the Junior World Rally Championship, Suzuki will once more enter two cars for P-G Andersson and Guy Wilks in class A6 in order to gain experience for the future.
The all-gravel event is a real classic, which every driver loves. The rally is characterised by rollercoaster crests and flowing off-camber corners, which makes it vital to establish a strong rhythm from the start. The speeds are medium to high, and while the event is not especially demanding on the tyres, maximum concentration is required from the driver - particularly with a two-wheel drive car.
Suzuki's aim in New Zealand will once again be to try and beat the more powerful two-litre four-wheel drive cars of the Production Car World Rally Championship. February's Rally Sweden - the first event that Suzuki contested outside of the Junior World Rally Championship – proved that this is an entirely realistic possibility, as the Ignis beat every single Group N car on stage times throughout the final day! The Ignis has also showed itself capable of finishing in the top 10 overall, and while this is no easy task, Suzuki's drivers will be doing their utmost to achieve it.
Reigning Junior World Champion P-G Andersson is making his debut in New Zealand, but is nonetheless looking forward to the challenge. "From what I hear about this rally, it should really suit me and the Ignis," he said. "My favourite rallies are fast gravel events, and this fits the bill perfectly."
Guy Wilks - winner of the Junior category in the Rally Mexico three weeks ago - has also never been to New Zealand before. "It's another new event for me but I can't wait to get stuck in," he said. "Aspects of New Zealand are meant to be quite similar to my home event, the Rally Great Britain, which is obviously a good thing from my point of view. The car is strong, and my confidence is up after winning in Mexico - which was another new event for me. Now it's just a question of keeping the momentum and hopefully translating that into a top result."
Monster Sport Europe team manager Risto Laine commented: "New Zealand will be a new event for pretty much all of us, but of course the reason we are doing these rallies outside of the Junior World Rally Championship is in order to gain experience. As ever it's difficult to know what to expect, but I have every confidence in the team, the car and the drivers. Coming off the back of two consecutive class victories, our expectations have to be high."
Rally New Zealand gets underway on the evening of Thursday April 7th with a ceremonial start in Auckland. Drivers then tackle 12 special stages totalling 356 competitive kilometres, before the finish back in Auckland on Sunday April 10th.Published 3 April 2005