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Team Citroen Australia’s two drivers, Adrian Coppin and Tony Sullens, have opted to go in completely different directions with their suspension setups.
 

“He (Tony) likes a very stiff car where as I prefer a more compliant car,” Adrian summarised. “We are really chalk and cheese with our setups.”
 
Despite both Sullens and Coppin driving identical Citroen DS3’s, both drivers happily admit that their preference of both driving style and setup choices has led them in very, very different directions after just four events together.
 
“It suits Adrian’s driving style to have a softer car, because he drives nicer on the technical stuff. I drive fast on the fast stuff and if the cars a bit stiffer it comes to me there, but I give it all away on the tight, twisty stuff,” added Sullens.
 
While most motorsport teammates try to help each other with complimentary setups, adding less pressure and pooling more resources for the team, the dynamic in the Citroen Australia team has both drivers focusing on the setup that suits their style.
 
Sullens, a driver who loves the fast stages mated with his experience on the flat out roads from Targa Tasmania, and at the other end of the spectrum Coppin who feels most comfortable in the tight, technical stages, means that the team have had to adapt two completely different suspension strategies to keep each driver happy.
 
“I’m pretty happy overall but I’m probably half way between my wet setup and my dry setup, which are both a bit stiffer than Adrian’s setup, but I’m comfortable like that,” commented Sullens.
 
Tony admits though that where Coppin’s strength is in the technical sections it’s on those exact same roads where he struggles. “I wonder if maybe I need to go do a few motorkhanas or something just to get my mind properly around how this car handles the really tight stuff.”
 
Meanwhile Coppin said he found Sullens’ preference for car setup totally unsuited to his style. “He likes a very stiff car, something that crashes through the rough stuff, what he calls a Colin McRae type car. Where as I prefer a more compliant car which sits on the road.”
 
Unsure if he was heading down the right path Coppin enlisted the help of Championship leader Scott Pedder during pre-event testing. “I took Scott for a ride during test in South Australia and he said the setup felt really good. That actually gave me a lot of confidence, Scott’s not winning back to back rallies without having a bit of an idea about what setup works best.”
 
So what does team principal Ron Cremen, himself a highly experienced rally driver, think of his drivers suspension preferences? “For sure it makes it more difficult,” Ron said.
 
“The issue is if one driver is having a problem, and they are both on the same setup, then you can work backwards to find a solution. But with two drivers with completely different setups you can’t overlay data, you can’t swap info, you almost have to let the drivers decide for themselves.”
 
Cremen said that while it proved a challenge for the team it wasn’t unheard of in rallying for two teammates to have very different approaches to setup and handling. “Look at Tommi Makinen during the Mitsubishi days, anyone else who tried to drive with Tommi’s setup found it impossible. And even Sebastien Loeb, what worked for him never quite seemed to work for other drivers.”
 
“Tony is an old school driver, he likes to just preserver. Adrian likes a car that gives him confidence. The issue is the way the ARC works, with short Heat races each day, you have to have everything perfect from the very first corner or else you’re on the back foot and losing time,” Cremen added.
 
“The key is confidence. If you’re confident in your setup you can pretty much drive anything fast.”

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