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Q&A: Toni Gardemeister - EXCLUSIVE

26 March 2008

by Rob Wilkins


TO HEAR THE INTERVIEW IN FULL WITH TONI GARDEMEISTER: CLICK HERE


Toni Gardemeister and the Suzuki World Rally team have had a bit of a mixed year to date, however despite that the speed of the SX4 WRC car has been more than evident. Indeed it's been very encouraging. Crash.net Radio caught up with Toni recently ahead of the fourth round in the championship - this coming weekend's Rally Argentina...


Crash.net:
Toni, you have now done three events with the Suzuki WRT team and have been with the team since the end of December. How are things going and how are you settling in?

Toni Gardemeister:
There have been good moments - and also worst moments. But when everything is going well on the rallies the times are quite good. We have had some problems and that is not so good. Hopefully however everything will go well in the future. I am getting on well with P-G - we are good friends and we have had very good times together.

Crash.net:
The results so far have been a bit mixed, but the speed of the SX4 WRC seems very encouraging.

TG:
Yeah, when everything works the times are surprisingly good actually. We haven't had so many tests and what we actually need at the moment is to get in much more testing.

Crash.net:
What's been done since Rally Mexico to address those issues with the engine?

TG:
I think the team have been investigating and trying to check what is the problem. I've heard that they have found some problems and everything should be ok in Argentina - hopefully.

Crash.net:
How much of a boost was it to score a point on your second outing with the SX4 WRC in Sweden?

TG:
We got some points from Sweden and also P-G got some from Monte Carlo. The aim for Argentina is to get some more.

Crash.net:
How have you got on with the Pirelli tyres and competing without run-flat mousse?

TG:
I am very happy with the tyres. I haven't had any problems with them and I think many of the other drivers are also quite pleased. Ok some drivers had some problems in Mexico - but also with mousse tyres you can normally get some punctures there. You have to be a bit more careful now in terms of cutting the corners and things like this. Otherwise though the tyres for everybody are the same and everybody is driving the same way.

Crash.net:
Have you had to make any changes to your own driving style?

TG:
I haven't because I am quite gentle with the tyres anyway. I didn't get any ['proper'] kilometres in Mexico though [with the gravel tyres] because we had so many problems there. But mainly I don't change my driving style.

Crash.net:
Next up is Argentina, how much are you looking forward to that event?

TG:
It is one of my favourite rallies. It is a very nice rally. I have done it three or four times. The last time was 2005 with Ford. The atmosphere is always very good. I am aiming to get some points there and try to push the car to the limit. Hopefully everything will work there.

Crash.net:
Are you feeling fit because you have been ill in the last week or so?

TG:
I have had the 'flu and a fever - and P-G was sick the week before too. I was quite sick, but now I am fine.

Crash.net:
What special factors do you need to take into account in Argentina?

TG:
There are some river crossings and you need to be careful there, but no other things really.

Crash.net:
How much of a disruption has it been for the team to have to appoint a new team manager?

TG:
Hopefully it won't change anything. We will see how it works with the new one [Paul Wilding].

Crash.net:
What are your hopes for the year as a whole now?

TG:
When they sort out these engine problems and we can do trouble-free runs, I think we can get one or two good results at the end of the year.

Crash.net:
What have you made of the competition?

TG:
It seems to be closer maybe than in previous years. Ok in previous years it was Marcus [Gronholm] and Sebastien [Loeb] at the front but now there is Mikko [Hirvonen], Sebastien and Jari-Matti [Latvala]. Subaru is also quite close on some events. It is better actually at the moment and more cars are closer to each other than in 2007.

Crash.net:
Thanks Toni - and good luck in Argentina.


TO HEAR THE INTERVIEW IN FULL WITH TONI GARDEMEISTER: CLICK HERE


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