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Rally challenge a new chapter for Suzuki


Suzuki's entry into the 2008 World Rally Championship opens a new corporate chapter in the history of the Japanese motor manufacturer.

"We always intended to expand our motor sports programme," said Hiroshi Tsuda, President of Suzuki Motor Corporation.

"Motor sport is in our corporate genes," he said. "This is a solid part of our sports minded heritage."

A high performance version of the new Suzuki SX4 is being developed for the factory entry into the prestigious international rally series.

An enthusiastic and supportive Mr Tsuda is asking for a WRC rally victory to be achieved by Suzuki within three years.

The two-wheel drive Junior World Rally Championship had a big effect on boosting Suzuki's brand image, with the success of the Suzuki Ignis and Swift. Now comes a big step up to the all wheel drive World Rally Championship.

The SX4 WRC is based on the 2-litre, four wheel drive SX4 production model which goes on sale in New Zealand early in 2007.

Heading the rally project for Suzuki is Nobuhiro ("Monster") Tajima, the talented driver and engineer who is well known to New Zealanders for his exploits in the annual Race to the Sky hillclimb in Central Otago.

Tajima told New Zealand journalists in Japan recently that he was very confident of the abilities of the new SX4.

"A big advantage of the SX4 is its high body rigidity. The SX4 is perfect for modifying into a competitive rally car," he said.

The Suzuki President recently showed his confidence in the SX4 WRC prototype by riding as passenger with Tajima on the high speed Ryuyo proving ground near Hamamatsu in Japan.

The previous generation Suzuki Swift hatchback quickly proved its potential in both race and rally events, and now the new Swift is posting successes in major rallies.

Tajima's motor sport operation will continue to develop the SX4 WRC in the lead-up to the FIA rally series in 2008.

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