Suzuki has secured its first ever four-wheel world title as Sweden’s Per-Gunnar Andersson won the Junior World Rally Championship in the Suzuki Ignis, after the final round of the 2004 season in Rally Catalunya.
The 2004 season was so successful, that the Japanese manufacturer won five of the seven Junior World Rally Championship rounds and occupied three of the top four places in the overall 2004 championship.
The world title completes what has been a memorable year for Suzuki, with national rally championship success in Sweden and Great Britain. Andersson won the Swedish Super 1600 title in June and Guy Wilks secured the British Super 1600 and British Junior Championships earlier in October.
Such has been the dominance of Suzuki that three Ignis’ could have won the Junior World title going into this weekend’s Spanish tar event. Guy Wilks, Kosti Katajamaki and Andersson all had a chance of winning the title. Indeed Wilks was only six stages from winning the world championship when a wrong tyre choice brought his rally to a premature end, as he slid off the road. Andersson then drove steadily to finish second in class in Rally Catalunya and win Junior World Rally Championship.
Monster Sport Europe’s Team Manager, Risto Laine, was understandably ecstatic at winning the world championship. He said: “I couldn’t have asked for a better season and I’m very happy for everyone involved from the drivers and co-drivers to everyone behind the scenes and especially for Suzuki Motor Corporation. The success has been as a result of everyone working together and now we’re going to celebrate. It was cruel luck on Guy to be so near to winning, but the championship is won over the season and Per-Gunnar has shown during 2004 he deserves the Junior World Rally Championship.
He added: “Since starting with the Ignis in the Junior World Championship in 2002 we’ve met our aims of being competitive in 2003 and winning the title in 2004. The car has proved to be very reliable and as such has given confidence to the drivers to push to the limit. The combination of car reliability and driver confidence is now reflected in this world title.”
A spokesperson for Suzuki GB said: “We’re delighted at the success the 2004 rallying season has brought with three national titles and the world title we aimed for at the start of the year. The result in Rally Catalunya and the superb success this year is as a result of hard work and dedication by everyone involved. We’re very pleased for all those who have helped make 2004 the most successful four-wheel season in Suzuki’s history.”
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