An Ignis Super 1600 driven by Daniel Carlsson in last weekend's (Finished Sunday, August 10) Rally of Finland has given Suzuki its first Junior World Rally Championship [JWRC] win.
Carlsson's inspiring performance in the rally, certainly the fastest and the one considered by many to be the toughest event of the entire series, has boosted the confidence of the Suzuki JWRC Team and demonstrated the performance, reliability and strength of the Ignis which is now established as the car to watch in the remaining rounds of the Championship.
Carlsson began the rally impressively, taking the lead on the very first stage, Thursday evening's Spectator Superspecial, but a puncture on Friday dropped him down to fourth and he knew then he would have to fight hard to regain the lead.
A series of five fastest times on Saturday meant that he returned to Parc Ferme at the end of that day back in the lead. On the final day, Carlsson controlled his pace to be sure of bringing Suzuki its first JWRC victory.
Suzuki driver Urmo Aava finished the event fourth, just ahead of the other Ignis Super 1600 of Salvador Canellas. Sadly the fourth Ignis of Ville-Pertti Teuronen was forced to retire on Saturday as the result of an accident.
The final day's action was run over yet more classic Rally Finland territory, featuring huge rollercoaster crests and flat-out average speeds.
On this day alone the competitors tackled six stages and covered 62 competive miles (100 kilometres). Speeds on these stages can reach well over 100 mph (160kph) - meaning that the quickest cars are sometimes covering around 44 yards each second! and, literally, flying through the air.
The Ignis Super 1600 cars were totally reliable throughout the entire rally, requiring only routine maintenance.
Commenting on his victory Carlsson said that on the final day he had no problems and just concentrated on bringing his car to the finish, keeping an eye on runner up Brice Tirabassi's stage times and taking care to follow clean lines and avoid punctures.
"It's fantastic to score the first Junior World Championship win for myself and for Suzuki. We've been close to winning a couple of times in previous rounds but to finally achieve the victory is an amazing feeling".
"Of all the events I think the Rally Finland is the most challenging so I also congratulate my rivals and thank Suzuki for building an excellent car - the engine and general levels of reliability are amazing" Daniel Carlsson said. At the finish Suzuki's Team manager Risto Laine praised the efforts of his team, saying: "Now it really feels like we got the job done! The final day was relatively easy as it was just a matter of making sure we got to the finish. "We've known since Monte Carlo that our cars had the pace to win, but to achieve this result after only four rallies and on an event as tough as Finland is quite something. The drivers have done an amazing job but it's not only down to them, it's down to everybody."Published 21 August 2003