by Rob Wilkins

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

Toni Gardemeister was confirmed as one of the official Suzuki World Rally Team drivers' for 2008 on Monday. Crash.net Radio caught up with him to chat about that and his hopes for next season...

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Crash.net:
Toni, are you looking forward to the challenge with Suzuki?

Toni Gardemeister:
Yes, for sure.

Crash.net:
What do you think you can achieve with the SX4?

TG:
It will be a development year in 2008 and I expect that Suzuki will be able to get some points. That is the main goal. We will try and go step-by-step and develop the car so it is quicker and quicker during the year. Hopefully the car will be faster at the end of the year than at the start.

Crash.net:
How long do you think it will take Suzuki to get up with the likes of Ford and Citroen?

TG:
They have a lot of experience and we start from quite a low level in comparison, because Suzuki hasn't done so many rallies yet with its World Rally Car - the SX4. But next year if we get some points then in 2009 we can go after better results. It is going to take two or three years though to get the best results.

Crash.net:
Have you driven the SX4 yet?

TG:
I have done two small tests - one on tarmac and one on gravel.

Crash.net:
What were your impressions of the SX4 from that?

TG:
First of all I was quite surprised and quite pleased - especially when you consider the kilometres and development they have done. The car is already quite good in my opinion.

Crash.net:
What tests will you do prior to Rallye Monte Carlo?

TG:
I will start testing this week and I will do two and a half days for Monte.

Crash.net:
How tough will Rallye Monte Carlo be for the SX4?

TG:
I think it will be a real test for the car and hopefully everything will go very well there. Monte Carlo is always good for me and if the weather is difficult we could get quite a good result there.

Crash.net:
Are you looking forward to then taking the SX4 to Sweden and using it on snow?

TG:
I like the Swedish Rally a lot and we will do tests for that rally. It will be a very good feeling to go there with Suzuki.

Crash.net:
Next year there will be a control tyre in the WRC with Pirelli coming in. What do you think of that?

TG:
The tyre will be the same for everybody - and it is good to do this. I have done a few tests already for Pirelli and I know the gravel tyres quite well. I haven't tested the tarmac tyres yet. I was quite pleased with the gravel tyres. They were quite quick still compared to the old tyres and they were very reliable.

Crash.net:
Can you tell us how long your deal is with Suzuki?

TG:
It is two years at the moment - and that is very good news. We will have a little bit of time to develop the car and try and achieve some good results.

Crash.net:
How good is it to know you will be doing a full-season, something you haven't done in the WRC since being released by Ford at the end of 2005?

TG:
For sure it is very, very nice and a big boost. I am bored at the moment and can't wait to start work.

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