The Suzuki World Rally Team
, also known as the Suzuki WRC Challenge
's factory backed World Rally Championship
team, as part of the Suzuki Sport
organization. The team debuted for the first time at the 2007 Rallye de France
Testing of the Suzuki SX4 WRC car was conducted in Japan in February 2007, before relocating to Europe in March. Gravel testing was undertaken in Southern France in April.
The Suzuki SX4 WRC made a competitive debut in Corsica, at the 2007 Tour de Corse, driven by Nicolas Bernardi and co-driver Jean-Marc Fortin, and set several stage times just outside of the top ten.
The team also participated in 2007 Rally GB with driver Sebastian Lindholm and co-driver Tomi Tuominen.
Drivers for the 2008 season were announced Monday, December 17th, to be Toni Gardemeister
and Per-Gunnar Andersson
. Technical Director Michel Nandan has been replaced by Shusuke Inagaki and Akira Kawada has been appointed as team manager.
Suzuki scored on their proper debut with Per-Gunnar Andersson finishing 8th in the 2008 Monte Carlo Rally, with Suzuki getting 2 points in the Manufacturers' title race. In the 2008 Swedish Rally, Toni Gardemeister finished 7th, earning Suzuki 3 more Manufacturers' points. Both of these early races were marred by engine damage due to faulty head gaskets, with Toni Gardemeister retiring from the Monte Carlo Rally and Per-Gunnar Andersson retiring from the Swedish Rally.