Suzuki can add another milestone to their tentative foray into the World Rally Championship after securing their best result of the season in New Zealand.
Following a year beset by lacklustre pace and dismal reliability, the heavily revised SX4 proved a significant step forward for drivers Per-Gunnar Andersson and Toni Gardemeister as they recorded decent stage times and completed the rally with minimal woes.
Andersson led their charge, the Swede coming home sixth for his best ever result at WRC level after setting two top five stage times on the first day. Dropping off the pace on leg two and three as he protected a much-needed good result for the team, Andersson was delighted to secure three points.
"I drove a little bit like my grandmother this morning! I knew there was so much to lose by making a mistake today, which meant there was quite a lot of pressure. The car was really good, but it was tough to find a rhythm and get into the morning stages, they were really loose at times. As well as that, I was struggling a little bit with the pace notes, they were too fast for the corners.
“It was such a shame for the last run through Whaanga Coast, that's a great stage, but a couple of kilometres into the stage we got a puncture, so we had to do the whole stage like that. Then later on, we got another puncture and dropped more time. Okay, this wasn't the best way to end it, but it has been a great rally for the whole team - and our faultless SX4 WRC."
Gardemeister, meanwhile, had his lion's share of the issues with the car, but he was able to fight back from a debilitating puncture and brake failure during the rally to claim seventh himself, marginally behind his team-mate.
"I really enjoy these roads and today, like every day on this rally, the SX4 WRC worked very well. I had a spin on the long one this morning, it was quite tough to find the feeling on the gravel in there, but after that the day has been getting better and better. The team has worked really hard for this and we deserve the points and the finish. I'm really happy."