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Q&A: Paul Wilding - Suzuki: EXCLUSIVE.

by Rob Wilkins


TO HEAR THE INTERVIEW IN FULL WITH PAUL WILDING: CLICK HERE


Suzuki made the step up to the 'senior' level this season in the World Rally Championship and while the first half was somewhat trying, the pace of the SX4 WRC car was still pretty promising and in total Toni Gardemeister and Per-Gunnar Andersson have combined to notch up ten manufacturers' points. Crash.net Radio's Rob Wilkins caught up with team manager Paul Wilding recently to get his thoughts on the first eight events and to chat about the team's hopes for Finland and beyond...


Crash.net:
Paul, how do you assess the first half of the season for Suzuki?

Paul Wilding:
It has not been an easy first half of the year. It has been six months of learning - a fairly intensive learning experience. We have learnt a lot though and we have made some really good progress. The SX4 World Rally Car has come a long way since we began at the beginning of the year. The team also and the drivers have all learned. I think we have made the most of the last six months.

Crash.net:
How much of a boost was it to get that first two-car finish in Greece?

PW:
It was very, very good. Greece is undoubtedly one of the toughest events in the World Rally Championship calendar. It was very satisfying for us as a team and also for the drivers'. The progress that we have made with the SX4 WRC car has allowed us to construct a couple of cars that are capable of sustaining one of the toughest events in the calendar. It was very, very satisfying.

Crash.net:
One of the big issues for Suzuki has been reliability. What is being done to address those issues?

PW:
We haven't had many problems that have re-occurred and as each problem has happened, it has been addressed. The whole six months so far have been one big testing and learning experience. Each problem as it has occurred has been sorted and rectified. As we are going along it would be unrealistic to think that we wouldn't have problems in our first year of competition. So far we are quite pleased with the progress we are making.

The times that the two SX4 WRC cars were showing in Turkey were by far to date the best times the car has shown - and the best speed. We managed to get both cars there under half a second a kilometre to the fastest vehicle, which happened to be Jari-Matti Latvala, who was significantly faster than everyone else on a few stages. We are very, very pleased with that and the problems that eventually occurred in Turkey were not problems that we have had occur to us before. We will address those and hopefully we will be in much better shape for the next rally.

Crash.net:
What are Suzuki's targets for the second half of the season?

PW:
We have got fairly strong expectations. There have been a number of changes that have been made and those changes will come into effect in Finland. We are planning on doing a test prior to Finland, which should concentrate mainly on the handling of the car and ensuring that the changes that we have made, are working correctly. We anticipate that they will do. But overall we are hoping to increase the reliability and also increase more on the speed as well. We have got two confident drivers and both P-G and Toni have done well in Finland in the past. They know the event and hopefully with the test that we have planned beforehand we should be in fairly good shape for a result there.

Crash.net:
Are the changes for Finland big?

PW:
I don't know completely what the changes are. But I have been told that they have mainly concentrated on the hydraulics and suspension side of the car. It has been a couple of areas that has not been letting us down, but did need improving. From a speed point of view I think we have got that. Now it is just a matter of fine-tuning it in the remaining half of the season. We are very confident and we are looking forward to it.

Crash.net:
There was some speculation the team might run three cars in New Zealand. I understand that is not correct.

PW:
No, that is not correct. I have actually done a little bit of research to try and find out where those stories have come from, but no - it is totally not correct. Nobody from our side has implied that. From my perspective we have no plans to run a third car In New Zealand. It is purely just speculation.

Crash.net:
How much testing is the team doing during this long break?

PW:


Related Pictures

Click on relevant pic to enlarge
Suzuki World Rally Team manager Paul Wilding and P-G Andersson [Pic credit: Suzuki WRT / McKlein]
Paul Wilding. Suzuki World Rally Team. Team manager. [Pic credit: Suzuki WRT / McKlein]
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Jari Ketomaa (FIN) Kaj Lindstrom (FIN), Ford Fiesta R5, WRC2 winners
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Jari Ketomaa (FIN) Kaj Lindstrom (FIN), Ford Fiesta R5, WRC2 winners
Nasser Al Attiyah, Giovanni Bernacchini (Ford Fiesta RRC, #40), WRC 2 World Champions
Jari Ketomaa (FIN) Kaj Lindstrom (FIN), Ford Fiesta R5, WRC2 winners
Jari Ketomaa (FIN) Kaj Lindstrom (FIN), Ford Fiesta R5, WRC2 winners
Nasser Al Attiyah, Giovanni Bernacchini (Ford Fiesta RRC, #40), WRC 2 World Champions
Nasser Al Attiyah, Giovanni Bernacchini (Ford Fiesta RRC, #40)
Nasser Al Attiyah, Giovanni Bernacchini (Ford Fiesta RRC, #40), WRC 2 World Champions
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Mathew Wilson (GB) Scott Martin (GB), Ford Fiesta RRC

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