by Rob Wilkins.
Ford number one driver, Toni Gardemeister has already enjoyed much success this season, after leaving the struggling Skoda outfit at the end of 2004.
Having grabbed his first podium at the season opening Monte Carlo Rally, he followed that up with another top-three finish in Sweden before coming home sixth in Mexico. As a result he now lies third in the drivers' championship, just three points off leader, Petter Solberg.
What's he made of the year thus far? How does the Focus compare to the Fabia?
Read on to find out, as he talks exclusively to Crash.net Radio
Toni. You've had a pretty solid start to the season - what with finishing in the points in all three events thus far, and twice being on the podium. Have you been pleased with you're performances?
The results have been quite good. The last event wasn't so nice in Mexico. I was a bit sick there and you know, it was a new event for us and it wasn't brilliant. But the first two events were positive and overall it has been a quite good start to the year.
Mexico was your worst result this season and you dropped from fourth to sixth on the final day. How difficult was the event in light of the fact you were suffering from the flu?
Yeah, you know, there was a few things; new event, also first car on the road and we lost something there and then I was quite sick especially during the recce. During the rally itself I was also quite tired all the time and for sure all these things combined cost us some seconds. It wasn't so good an event for me.
Now you moved from Skoda to Ford this year. Having been with the Ford team now for a while, how do the two teams compare? What's the Focus like in comparison to the Fabia?
Both cars they are a bit different to drive. The Skoda was more quick to react on the changes to the road and things like this, where as the Ford is more stable. The Skoda was also quite quick sometimes, but the main problem we had there was that it wasn't so reliable. With Ford the car has been very reliable and we haven't had any problems really and that in turn helps you be quick.
Your old team, Skoda, seem to be struggling still this year. What do you think they need to do to step up and challenge the likes of Ford, Citroen and Subaru?