Dealer Team Suzuki is hoping for a better result at the International Rally of Wales on 15/16 May after a disappointing debut in the recent Pirelli International Rally.

Driver Guy Wilks (Darlington) suffered a bizarre accident on the very first stage during the Pirelli in the team’s Suzuki Ignis Super 1600 and resultant damage to the steering forced him out of the event during special stage two. Wilks (23) is now hoping for better luck in the second event of the 2004 Kwik-Fit/Pirelli British Rally Championship, the International Rally of Wales, based in Dolgellau, Gwynedd.

Wilks said: "I was disappointed to go out of the Pirelli at such an early stage after all the hard work the team had put into preparing the car especially since it was the team’s British debut and also my home event. But hopefully I’ve used up most of my bad luck for the season and we can start picking up championship points, starting in Wales."

For Wilks’ co-driver Phil Pugh (Tywyn, Gwynedd) the International Rally of Wales is his home event, with all the stages within a few miles of his house. And he is hoping local knowledge and the support of fans in the area will boost the team’s chances.

Pugh (33) said: "I’ve lived in the area all my life and I’m confident I can use my local knowledge to help gain valuable time on our competitors. The Pirelli was Guy’s home event and I’m certain my home rally will last a little bit longer! There will be thousands of fans out on the stages supporting us and we want to give them something to cheer about."

Despite the setback on the Pirelli, Pugh and Wilks are confident they can make their presence felt during the eight special stages in Mid-Wales. Wilks finished third in 2002 Rally of Wales in the Super 1600 class while Pugh has competed in the event twice.

Pugh added: "The Rally of Wales is an event with many stages that are familiar to me and although Guy has only driven over just some of the stages we’ll contest he has the ability to learn them quickly during the recce. After the retirement in the Pirelli the most important thing is to finish in Wales, score points and get some miles in the car."

According to Wilks the latest 5-door Ignis rally car is ideally suited to the stages on the Rally of Wales and he says that the engine and gearbox on the Ignis are very strong, and that the torque produced is ideal for dealing with the combination of short straights and tight corners that are characteristic of this rally.

The International Rally of Wales starts at 12:15pm on Saturday, 15 May in Dolgellau and finishes at 12:40pm on Sunday, 16 May, with most of the stages taking place near Dolgellau and Machynlleth.

Published : 04/05/04 Author : Melanie Carter

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