The Rally Deutschland marks the asphalt debut of the all-new Suzuki Swift Super 1600 - the car which was quicker than any rival on its gravel debut in Finland two weeks ago, setting a scintillating series of fastest stage times.
The German event is round six of the Junior World Rally Championship and the first one to be held on proper asphalt roads. However, German asphalt is like no other anywhere else in the world, and it will provide a massive challenge for Swift drivers P-G Andersson and Guy Wilks.
The rally is made up of two old national events rolled into one and this is very evident in the disparate nature of the stages. The opening day takes place over narrow and slippery vineyard roads, which consist mostly of straights and tight hairpin bends. Day two is the most fearsome of the entire rally as it is run on the Baumholder military ranges, using roads that were originally designed to test tanks!
The surface is abrasive concrete, which becomes extremely slippery when wet. The edges of the concrete roads are very sharp, and often cause punctures. This is a particular risk for the Junior World Rally Championship entrants, who are not allowed to use anti-deflation mousse. The final day of the rally contains more conventional European asphalt roads, with a wide variety of speeds and corners.
The weather is a constant question mark, and conditions become even more treacherous than usual if it rains, as is often the case. The Junior World Rally Championship cars have only two-wheel drive, which means that traction and grip is a critical factor.
Englishman Guy Wilks currently leads the Junior World Rally Championship after a stunning performance on the Swift's debut in Finland, where he overhauled a five-minute deficit on the first stage following a puncture to finish third overall. He is also one of the very few Junior World Championship drivers to have previous experience of the Rally Deutschland.
He said: "Germany is always a very difficult rally, but I've got a very good feeling with the Swift and this should hopefully enable us to come away with a good result. The tricky and variable conditions should play to the Swift's strengths, and it's got plenty of power to cope with the fast sections. There's a bit of pressure on me because I'm in the lead of the championship and of course I want to keep it that way. But the pace is so hot that there's very little time for tactics - you are usually flat out from the start!"
Suzuki Sports President Nobuhiro 'Monster' Tajima stated: "We were very pleased with the speed shown by the Swift in Finland and its first podium. We are now looking forward to our asphalt debut, which will be just as important. We have done some testing on asphalt already, but the conditions in Germany are very specific so we will carry out a two-day test there just before the start of the event. I also think the Ignis drivers will be able to challenge for the top places in Germany. Urmo and Kosti are both very quick, and our two young Czechs are improving rapidly."
The Rally Deutschland gets underway with a ceremonial start in Trier on Thursday 25 August at 1900 (CET). Crews then go on to tackle 19 special stages totalling 355 kilometres before the finish back in Trier on Sunday 28 August at 15:30 (CET).
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