Suzuki Hopes For Turkish Delight

Suzuki heads to the third round of the Junior World Rally Championship, the Rally of Turkey, in a confident mood after winning the last round in Greece three weeks ago. All four Suzuki Ignis Super 1600 drivers led the rally at one point, with the car of Guy Wilks finally claiming victory and moving up to second in the championship.

The Acropolis Rally confirmed the top performance of the Ignis on rough gravel, and conditions are expected to be broadly similar for this weekend's Rally of Turkey. The Turkish event is expected to be the hottest of the year, with temperatures approaching 40 degrees centigrade. The surfaces consist of rough and loose gravel, containing several sharp rocks that make punctures a constant risk. The drivers will cover 383 competitive kilometres over 17 stages and three days - making Turkey one of the biggest challenges of the season.

Suzuki drivers Mirco Baldacci, Guy Wilks, Kosti Katajamaki and P-G Andersson arrived in Turkey on Monday [21June]. They headed straight to Istanbul, where a press conference had been arranged by the Turkish Suzuki distributor, which was attended by local television stations and journalists.

Mirco Baldacci said: "I'm looking forward to Turkey. We were leading in Greece but unfortunately we had to retire, so here is where I take revenge!"

Guy Wilks said: "Things are going very well for us at the moment: we won in Greece and also on the Scottish Rally, in the British Championship. Now it's just a question of trying to continue that momentum in order to get another good result."

Kosti Katajamaki said: "Last year I managed to win the Rally of Turkey, so I am hoping that it will be possible to make it two in a row. It will be a tough challenge, but I've got every confidence in the car."

P-G Andersson said: "Greece was a disappointment for me because we crashed twice, but although this made the headlines, I want to be famous for other reasons as well!"

Urmo Aava, driving a 2003 specification Ignis, commented: "Turkey should be good for us. In Greece we proved our speed, and I'm hoping to use my experience of this car from last year to help me get a top finish."

Straight after the press conference, the drivers flew to Antalya to begin their recce for the rally – which is based in the nearby tourist resort of Kemer – before driving their cars for the first time at the shakedown test on Thursday which will provide a last minute opportunity to verify the set-up before the competition starts. After that they have only a couple of hours rest before heading for the ceremonial start and short 2.5-kilometre spectator superspecial stage. The rally starts for real on Friday, with the action continuing at full speed until the finish on Sunday afternoon.

The cars used on the rally will be the same as those put through their paces in Greece, with the exception of P-G Andersson's newly-rebuilt car that replaces the one crashed on the Acropolis. The cars were re-prepared at the Suzuki dealership in Lamia, Greece, before being transported to Turkey. In the meantime, a rebuilt car for Andersson was ferried across from Monster Sport Europe's facility in Milton Keynes, England.

Published 25 June 2004 Melanie Carter
 

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