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Q&A: Toni Gardemeister - EXCLUSIVE

9 October 2006

by Rob Wilkins


Toni Gardemeister competed in what will probably be his final WRC event of the season in Cyprus at the end of last month, when he brought his Astra-run Citroen Xsara WRC car home in fifth place overall.

It was another more than solid result for the Finn, considering he has had to sit out most of the season. Indeed in all four of his outings he has scored good points, beginning the season with a fantastic third place finish in Monte Carlo and then backing that up with two fourth places in Greece and Germany, before adding another 4 points to his tally on the 'Island of Aphrodite'. He currently lies in seventh place in the drivers' championship with 20 points to his name.

Crash.net Radio spoke to him last week to get his thoughts on Cyprus and Germany. We also chatted to him about his plans for 2007, when he hopes to return to the FIA World Rally Championship more full-time...



Q:
Toni, we spoke to you back in June, after the Acropolis Rally, since then you have done the events in Germany and Cyprus. Generally speaking were you pleased with your form on those rounds?

Toni Gardemeister:
I am quite pleased about my drives on all of those events - the results were quite OK. On all of those events we had a chance to fight for a podium place. OK, Greece not so much, but in Germany and Cyprus yes. In Cyprus without the puncture we could have fought with Mikko [Hirvonen] for a top three place.

Q:
If we can focus on Germany more specifically first, you finished fourth there. Were you happy with that?

TG:
For me Germany went quite well. I was very happy with the set-up of the car. The car worked very well and there was no problem with the Citroen at all. Our tyre choice was generally very good - only one bad tyre choice. Everything worked really well and on the last day we had a good fight with Marcus [Gronholm] for third. I am pleased with that.

Q:
After that the WRC went to Finland, was it tough not doing your home round in the WRC?

TG:
For sure it is always disappointing if you do not drive in your home event. For me it is one of the best events and it is nice to drive there. But we had no possibility to do that, because Janne [Tuohino] was driving the same car that we use and so we had no car for that event. Also there was a bit of a lack of money to do the event.

Q:
More recently you did the event in Cyprus - again you scored points and got a good solid finish by brining you're car home in fifth, despite a few problems on the opening leg.

TG:
We had some problems on day one with the gearbox - actually in the clutch, but it didn't cost us too much time. We then had a puncture in stage five and lost some time with that and on the next stage we had a bit of overheating but we solved it. Even with those problems the event was good for me and I was happy with the result.

Q:
Do you have any plans now to do any more events this season or is that it?

TG:
At the moment I have no plans, because we don't have the budget.

Q:
Obviously the big news recently was that Sebastien Loeb broke his arm while training for the Rally of Turkey. We spoke to Kronos boss, Marc van Dalen last week and he said four or five people were in consideration to sub for Loeb. Since then Colin McRae has been confirmed for that event, but did you have any contact with them about filling that void?

TG:
I think there was some contact with them, but they have chosen McRae now. For me it was a big surprise that they have gone for him, because I didn't really think about him. I thought maybe [Francois] Duval or somebody would be there. It could be a good choice, but for sure I would like to have driven there myself.

Q:
Is Kronos an option for next year or maybe even in Australia?

TG:
I don't know, you should ask somebody from Kronos. I hope that we have a chance to still do some events with them, but we will see.

Q:
Looking to 2007, what are you're hopes for next year?

TG:
I have some hopes but we are still working to get some kind of deal for next year. There are not so many places where you can drive, but hopefully we will get something. We try and work hard to find something. I hope some of my performances this season will help me get a drive for next year.

Q:
I was going to say, your results this year have been pretty good, even though you have had to sit out a large portion of the season. That must stand you in good stead?

TG:
I hope so. I hope the events we have done this year will help, because we have only done a few and we have tried to do as well as we could on them. The results have not been perfect for me, but they have been OK. I hope those events help us get a seat for next year.

Q:
Final question: any idea when we might hear what your plans are for 2007?

TG:
It is difficult to say when you will hear something, but I hope it is sorted before the start of next season.


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