The forecast is for rain, wind and mud on the Rally Great Britain, but all three of the privateer Suzuki drivers are looking forward to the unique challenge that this event provides. Britain is also the last round of the Junior World Rally Championship, and the final chance for the Suzuki drivers to add to their scores.
The drivers had a taste of the action that is to follow over the next three days this evening, with a 2.45 kilometre run over the Spectator Superspecial in Cardiff docks. Thousands of rally fans braved the cold to see their heroes at work, and all three Suzuki drivers enjoyed the experience.
Suzuki Team Finland's Juha Kangas was the fastest Ignis and almost took the fastest JWRC time on the Superspecial, and commented: "Although it's a short stage, I am glad to have realised a second fastest time. You need to have total concentration and make sure that you avoid clipping any of the barriers. I think I could have gone even faster but there is no reason of taking any risks. Nevertheless I must admit that it is motivating to start the rally in this way!"
Suzuki Team Germany's Niki Schelle is an asphalt expert, and found the slippery Superspecial tough, but enjoyable. "I had a good run. The level of grip is constantly changing, but that will be true for the rest of the rally as well," said the German. "The main thing was to get the car round and make some solid preparation for when the rally starts in anger tomorrow. The Ignis certainly feels ready for action!"
Suzuki Team Japan's driver, Kazuhiko Niwa, used the Superspecial to get used to hearing pace-notes from his new co-driver, Akihiko Takahashi. "The partnership is working very well so far," said the young Japanese driver. "I've had all the notes in plenty of time and I'm going to try as hard as I can on the rally. The car gives me a lot of confidence, but I need to be careful too."
Tomorrow (Friday) the rally starts for real, with five classic stages through the Welsh forests. The first car starts in darkness at 0515 (GMT) from Cardiff and is scheduled to return to Parc Ferme in the Welsh capital more than 12 hours later, at 2035.Published 17 November 2002