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Q&A: P-G Andersson - Suzuki: EXCLUSIVE

22 November 2008

TO HEAR THE INTERVIEW IN FULL WITH P-G ANDERSSON: CLICK HERE


Suzuki's Per-Gunnar Andersson notched up his best result of the season - and the best result to date with the SX4 WRC - last time out on the Rally Japan, when he finished fifth. Crash.net Radio's Rob Wilkins caught up with the double Junior World Rally champion recently and spoke to him about the year and got his thoughts ahead of December's season ending Wales Rally GB...



Crash.net:
P-G, your first full season at the 'senior' level in the WRC is almost at an end. Generally speaking how have you found it?

Per-Gunnar Andersson:
It started quite well in Monte Carlo - the first WRC rally for me and also for the new Suzuki team. We ended up in eighth place. It was a good start but we had some failures during the season after that and some retirements. That made it quite tough but you just have to accept it and look forward and try and achieve as much as possible. At the beginning we had this problem with the engine, which we didn't expect. But now we seem to have sorted it out. I have been trying my best on all the rallies. I have set some quite good stage times and the rhythm has been okay. Overall I am quite happy with the season.

Crash.net:
Last time out of course you had a great result in Japan. That must be a massive boost going to Wales Rally GB?

P-GA:
Yeah, Japan was very important and we wanted to get a place in the top eight - but then we ended up fifth. I didn't expect to finish that high but the weather helped us with the really bad conditions and on the Sunday I managed to gain some positions. It was very positive and going into GB with similar weather it could help us a little bit again.

Crash.net:
What do you think you and the team can achieve in Wales?

P-GA:
It will be tougher in Wales. Okay the first day's stages are new for everybody but then we are back on the old stages on days two and three. It is not so easy when all the other drivers' have the experience of the stages. We have done them in a Junior car, but it is not the same as doing them in a WRC car. It will be a little bit harder there. I hope we can be in the top eight. Anything can happen in Wales though - it can be foggy and wet, you just never know what the weather will do.

Crash.net:
You didn't do Rally GB last year, but you have done it on a number of other occasions. Is it an event you like?

P-GA:
Yeah, GB is always quite spectacular. In the J-WRC I liked it most when it was dry but now I think we can have some fun in the wet conditions as well. It is a really nice rally.

Crash.net:
Are you looking forward to driving those new stages?

P-GA:
Yeah, I have heard that the stages are really nice.

Crash.net:
The weather played quite a major role in Japan, could be the case again in GB?

P-GA:
I think everybody knows the weather can be unpredictable in GB. No one will be amazed if it is foggy or snowy. Everyone is prepared for it to be like that. It will not be easy.

Crash.net:
Francois Duval had a big accident in Japan and his co-driver, Patrick Pivato was badly injured. Gigi Galli broke his leg in Germany back in August. Does that aspect of the sport ever worry you?

P-GA:
No, not really. It can always happen and in Duval's case and Patrick Pivato's it was very unlucky. But accidents can happen. Normally though we are quite safe and so it is not something I think about.

Crash.net:
How much progress has the team made this season with the SX4 WRC?

P-GA:
We have done some small steps and have mainly worked on getting the reliability much better. The car is getting slightly better. In the beginning there were a lot of hydraulic issues. That is all sorted now. Now we are mainly looking at the engine and trying to get more power out of it. We try to work harder with the chassis as well.

Crash.net:
There were lots of changes this season on the tyre front, with Pirelli coming in, run-flat mousse outlawed and so on. How have you found that challenge?

P-GA:
For me it hasn't been a problem. Coming from the J-WRC we had control tyres and I think it has helped us a little bit. There is less that you can do wrong - everybody has the same tyre. It is the same for everyone. It hasn't been a problem at all. Everybody was thinking about punctures in the beginning but the tyres seem to have been very strong.

Crash.net:
Do you think Pirelli have done a good job?

P-GA:
I think so, okay sometimes you want to have a slightly different compound to what they have chosen or nominated. But mainly they have done a good job.

Crash.net:
You of course had considerable success in the J-WRC, has it been difficult adapting to drive a World Rally Car?

P-GA:
It is okay. When it is fast it is fine. When the rallies are twisty it has been a little bit different. But overall it has gone okay.

Crash.net:
Can you tell us anything about your plans for 2009?

P-GA:
[laughs] I don't know anything at the moment. I hope that we will continue with Suzuki. But no decisions have been taken yet. We don't know if they will go forward and continue. I am waiting for an answer.

Crash.net:
Do you have a back-up plan if Suzuki does opt to take a sabbatical?

P-GA:
Not really...

Crash.net:
Final question, what have you made of Sebastien Loeb's success this season?

P-GA:
I think it was not unexpected. It is no surprise that he is the champion again this year. But I think Mikko [Hirvonen] has done a really good job to keep up as well as he has done. Sebastien is just an amazing driver. He is probably the best rally driver in the world, the best rally driver of all time. He is amazing.


TO HEAR THE INTERVIEW IN FULL WITH P-G ANDERSSON: CLICK HERE


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