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.
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...
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?
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.
If we can focus on Germany more specifically first, you finished fourth there. Were you happy with that?
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.
After that the WRC went to Finland, was it tough not doing your home round in the WRC?
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.
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.
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.
Do you have any plans now to do any more events this season or is that it?
At the moment I have no plans, because we don't have the budget.