All four Suzuki Ignis Super 1600 cars have finished in the top six of the Catalunya Rally, the penultimate round of the Junior World Rally Championship [JWRC].

This is the first time all the Suzukis are at the finish since Suzuki started rallying in 2002. Suzuki is very proud to be able to show the relibility of the Ignis and is happy with the good job of the drivers, engineers and team members.

Salvador Canellas, Daniel Carlsson, Urmo Aava and Ville-Pertti Teuronen have finished third, fourth, fifth and sixth respectively after three days of frenetic asphalt action.

Catalunya is the fastest asphalt rally of the entire World Rally Championship, and it was made even more difficult this year by uncertain weather. Heavy rain during the final day meant that the Junior World Championship runners struggled to control their cars, which have only two-wheel drive compared to the four-wheel drive World Rally Cars.

Today's action consisted of six stages, totalling 103 competitive kilometres. The route was run as two loops of three stages before the finish ramp back in Lloret de Mar.

Carlsson had a huge moment on the opening stage of the day, under very wet and slippery conditions. He was lucky not to hit anything, and from there concentrated on getting to the finish. The result of this rally means that his championship chances are over, but he has enjoyed competing in these very mixed conditions.

"The spin I had this morning was almost certainly the biggest near-miss of my entire career," said Carlsson, "The car spun round completely and I still don't know now how I managed to avoid hitting anything. Afterwards I thought it was best to try and get to the finish in one piece, so in view of the conditions I drove steadily to the end of the event."

Teuronen had no mechanical problems today, and started the day locked in a huge battle with his team-mate Urmo Aava for fifth place. Teuroen suffered a puncture seven kilometres into the third stage of the day, and dropped time by having to stop and change it. But because exactly the same fate befell Aava, the battle could continue! In the end Aava won it, but Teuroen was still pleased to increase his asphalt experience and finish sixth.

"We had a good day yesterday and had to push hard, but unfortunately the puncture set us back slightly," he said, "It was a big stone in the middle of the road and there was no way I could avoid it. I enjoyed having a big fight with Urmo, although I think both of us were careful not to risk our chances of finishing. Conditions were extremely difficult, and it would have been very easy to go off."

Canellas was hampered yesterday by a problem with the gearshift cut, which meant that he had to use the clutch for every shift into and out of fourth gear. Today his Ignis was completely reliable, although like all his team-mates Canellas took the wrong tyre choice in the morning. In the afternoon he drove as quickly as possible to maximise his chances of taking second place, but in the end he was happy enough to finish third and on the podium in front of his home crowd. Canellas still maintains a chance of winning this year's Junior World Championship, although he faces a tough task.

"We knew before the start of the rally that it would have been very difficult to win, so this is a realistic result that I am very pleased with," noted Canellas, "Our chances of winning the championship are quite small, but of course I will be pushing as hard as always and doing my best. I had really good fun on this rally: I was driving flat-out from start to finish. The car felt really good too."

Aava started today fifth but came under attack from his team-mate Teuronen. In a strange twist of fate though, both drivers punctured on the same stage and lost roughly equal amounts of time changing the wheel! Aava drove quickly and reliably to the finish, and was able to claim fifth place at the end.

"It's been a very good rally and I've been learning more all the time," commented Aava, "I've not always been pleased with the way it's going, but I feel that I've improved and learnt a lot. The car has been fantastic: it hasn't given me a moment of trouble throughout three days of very intensive action. It's a pity about our puncture this morning but sometimes these things happen."

Monster Sport Europe team manager Risto Laine concluded: "From our point of view the most important thing is that we got four cars to the finish, which is a very big achievement given that the competition is so strong these days. This proves that the car is incredibly reliable - which is the key to rallying. We've also shown a good turn of speed, and Salvador has done a brilliant job to lead the way. It's not been an entirely incident-free rally: we had a gearbox problem yesterday and a bad tyre choice today, but it's still been good."

The next and final round of the JWRC takes place from November 7-9 on the Rally Great Britain. This last rally of the season could end in glory once again for Suzuki as the Wales Rally GB is known as very unpredictable due to weather conditions and difficulty of the roads.

The battle for the championship will continue in Cardiff as Suzuki driver Canellas has to score minimum 7 points more than Renault driver Tirabassi to win the title. The Spanish driver has not given up yet!

 

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