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Q&A: Toni Gardemeister - EXCLUSIVE

8 December 2006

by Rob Wilkins


Former Ford works driver, Toni Gardemeister was at the Rally GB last weekend, the final round in the 2006 FIA World Rally Championship, no doubt eager to try and remind all the team bosses that he is still very much available for 2007. Furthermore while he confirmed to Crash.net Radio that Astra Racing, the team with whom he took in four WRC events this year is a possibility, he also noted that he has some other options too...



Q:
Toni, you are here at the Rally GB, obviously not competing, but what are your thoughts watching from the sidelines?

Toni Gardemeister:
OK for sure it would be much nicer to be in the forests with a rally car! But I have been watching here for a few days and then visiting in the service. Also I am trying to find something for next year. It is quite interesting to be here.

Q:
You did a few events with Astra this season and had some good results didn't you?

TG:
Yeah the results were OK, especially considering we haven't driven so much and did not do many kilometres before each rally.

Q:
As you said considering the lack of testing you had, to take a third, and then two fourths and a fifth was pretty good, wasn't it?

TG:
All the events went quite well and the results were OK. They could have been even better though if we could have fought with Marcus [Gronholm] in Germany and beat him there. We could have been third on the Rallye Deutschland if we had managed that. We had some problems in Cyprus too and lost some places, but overall it was fine.

Q:
You drove the Peugeot 307 WRC and the Citroen Xsara WRC this season. How did they compare?

TG:
In Monte Carlo the Peugeot felt very good. I was very happy with it. OK there were some things I wanted to change to make the car better for me but it was impossible there. The engine felt very good on the car. The handling wasn't the easiest car to drive, but also not so bad either. And once you got use to it, the car was actually very good.

With the Xsara [which I swapped to for Greece, Germany and Cyprus] it was very easy to drive. The engine didn't seem as powerful as it was in the Peugeot, but on the driving side it was very, very easy. It was good.

Q:
We spoke to Astra Racing team boss, Luca Pregliasco recently and he said he was keen to continue doing a programme with you in 2007. Can you update us on that?

TG:
We have quite a few options at the minute. Astra is one of those options and we need to make a decision very soon, because the entry to the Rallye Monte Carlo finishes very soon now. There are just ten days or so left and we have to make some decisions before that. We will see what happens, but there are some options, that is for sure.

Q:
Would you be happy to stay with Astra if that does turn out to be the case?

TG:
Yeah for sure I am happy to stay there, but it depends how many events we can do. I want to do as many events as possible. What Astra have done this year though and what I got from them, was very, very good. I was extremely happy with that.

Q:
It must have been very frustrating for you just to do four of the sixteen events, especially as you did them all in 2005, when you were apart of the BP Ford World Rally team?

TG:
Yeah sometimes it is a bit like that [and is frustrating], but I am happy that I could do even these four events. But for sure I would be much more happy if I could do all of the rounds. For next year I want to do as many as possible and try and get a good seat for 2008 - or even for 2007. We will see though.

Q:
Were there any pluses to just doing four WRC events?

TG:
Sometimes it is good to have a break - you can rest and so on. But for me I would like to drive on all 16 events. I like competing, especially when you have a very competitive car - that is very nice.

Q:
What are your plans now for Christmas and the New Year?

TG:
We will see how it goes and what decision we make. It will depend on what drive we find for next year and that will affect whether we will do some tests or not. Normally Christmas time is free for everybody and I like to have that time with my family and friends, but we will just have to see what happens.


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