This weekend will see the 2015 208 Rally Cup winner Jose Antonio Suarez start the final event of his 2016 WRC programme with the Peugeot Rally Academy. The Spaniard looks back at his season as a factory driver in the 208T16.
What is your analysis of your year with the Peugeot Rally Academy?
I fought hard to fulfil my dream of becoming a factory driver and it’s been a fantastic season. The learning curve started with my very first kilometre in the car. Not only have I gained experience in a four-wheel drive car but we also showed that the 208T16 was competitive on every rally we did.
What have these past two seasons been like competing first of all in the 208 Rally Cup and then with the Peugeot Rally Academy this season?
I couldn’t have wished for a better springboard for my career than the 208 Rally Cup. This year, everyone at the Peugeot Rally Academy has helped me become a more professional driver. They have been a formidable family to me, both on events and also during the numerous tests we did together.
Tell us a little more about your car, the 208T16?
It’s the best car I have ever driven. It’s in its element both on dirt and on asphalt and I can’t wait to drive it on the Wales Rally GB.
What was the hardest part of the 2016 season for you?
There were some tough moments, like in Sardinia where my run didn’t last very long, but that’s rallying. The difficulties helped us to progress. You’ve always got to look at the positives.
What surprised you the most?
My biggest surprise was the Rallye Monte-Carlo! It was our first time on the event but we showed that we had the speed on what were very difficult stages. Catalonia was a pleasant surprise, too. I made a mistake and went off quite early on, but the whole team did a great job in getting my 208T16 going again. We posted some quick times on the two asphalt legs against the Skoda Fabia R5s, including a fastest time at a moment when Kopecky and Tidemand were battling hard for the WRC2 win.
What is your objective in Wales?
Just as I do on every rally, I will try my very hardest. We will drive 100 percent from shakedown to the last corner of the last stage. We have no prior experience of the event so we will need to take good pace notes during recce. Carlos Sainz has given me some useful help, as well, so I feel quite confident ahead of what will be my last rally of the year.
How do you see your future?
I hope to be able to compete in the World Rally Championship for many years to come!
Thursday, October 27
08:00am: Shakedown - Clocaenog
6:30pm: Start ceremony - Colwyn Bay / Parc Eirias
Friday, October 28
5:30am: Start Day 1 - Deeside
8:20am: SS1 - Myherin 1 (31.82 km)
9:11am: SS2 - Sweet Lamb 1 (4.24 km)
9:24am: SS3 - Hafren 1 (35.14 km)
11:15am: SS4 - Dyfnant 1 (17.91 km)
12:36pm: Regroup - Newtown (15 minutes)
12:55pm: TFZ - Newtown (10 minutes)
1:54pm: SS5 - Myherin 2 (31.82 km)
2:45pm: SS6 - Sweet Lamb 2 (4.24 km)
2:58pm: SS7 - Hafren 2 (35.14 km)
4:42pm: SS8 - Dyfnant 2 (17.91 km)
7:55pm: Service A - Deeside (45 minutes)
8:40pm: End Day 1 - Deeside
Saturday, October 29
5:45am: Start Day 2 / Service B (15 minutes) - Deeside
8:18am: SS9 - Pantperthog 1 (9.64 km)
8:51am: SS10 - Dyfi 1 (21.12 km)
9:27am: SS11 - Gartheiniog 1 (11.34 km)
10:23am: Regroup - Corris (30 minutes)
11:04am: SS12 - Pantperthog 2 (9.64 km)
11:37: SS13 - Dyfi 2 (21.12 km)
12:13pm: SS14 - Gartheiniog 2 (11.34 km)
1:18pm: SS15 - Aberhirnant (13.91 km)
3:16pm: Regroup - Cholmondeley (17 minutes)
3:41pm: SS16 - Cholmondeley Castle (1.80 km)
4:43pm: Service C - Deeside (45 minutes)
5:28pm: End Day 3 - Deeside
Sunday, October 30
7:20am: Start Day 4 / Service D (15 minutes) - Deeside
8:31am: SS17 - Clocaenog 1 (7.70 km)
9:08am: SS18 - Brenig 1 (7.93 km)
9:28am: SS19 - Alwen 1 (10.41 km)
10:33am: SS20 - Clocaenog 2 (7.70 km)
11:14am: SS21 - Alwen 2 (10.41 km)
11:31am: Regroup - Brenig (27 minutes)
12:08pm: SS22 - Brenig 2 / Power Stage (7.93 km)
1:26pm: End of Rally - Llandudno