Crash.net EXCLUSIVE: Q&A: Toni Gardemeister

Former 'works' WRC driver Toni Gardemeister has had a quiet year after Suzuki pulled the plug on its 'senior' World Rally programme back in December '08. Crash.net Radio's Rob Wilkins caught up with the ex-Suzuki WRT man recently and spoke to about being on the sidelines, his plans for the future and more...

Toni, what are you hoping to do in 2010?

Toni Gardmeister:
We don't know yet what will be the plan for 2010. But we will try to get a seat or some place to drive. Even this year I want to do some more events. We just don't know yet though. We are trying to work very hard. But next year I definitely want to be back at World Rally Championship level or in the Intercontinental Rally Challenge or something like this.

I know it is always difficult to say, but what do you think your old team could have achieved in 2009 with the Suzuki SX4 WRC?

Like you said it is a little bit difficult to say what they could have achieved. However if they did some testing - because we didn't do almost any testing in 2008 - and if there was good planning, I think the car would have been much faster. We would have been able to get regular top-six finishes in the rallies.

You have had a quiet year, but you did take in the Rallye Monte Carlo with a Fiat Abarth Grande Punto S2000. What was that like?

Monte Carlo was nice like always. I like the rally. Okay we had a lot of technical problems during the event and we lost some time because of that. But at least we showed that the speed was quite good and we were lying in second place overall before we retired just a few stages from the end [Toni retired in SS12, with only two more tests to go - Ed].

What do you think of the IRC and is that something that interests you?

I like the IRC and the concept. I like the Super 2000 cars because they are interesting to drive and they are like the old rally cars. You can push the car to the limit and they are a bit 'raw'. The IRC is good as well because there are more cars at the moment than at WRC level. We will have to see what happens in the future now when the new regulations come in for the World Rally Championship.

You also made the trip to Mexico for the Rally of Nations event in July, one of a number of former WRC stars in action. Did you enjoy that?

It was fun there and I saw a lot of friends. A lot of drivers that I know were competing and there was good competition. Also for us it was quite a decent event because we were in a very good position before we got a problem. It was a pity that we retired so early. But at least we set some competitive stage times. [Overall] the Rally of Nations was a good thing, a good concept what with two drivers in a team and then scoring points for their country. It was a little bit like in athletics.

Have you got any other outings lined up for this year?

We have some discussions going on for some events. But we will have to see what comes of them.


by Rob Wilkins

Related Pictures

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Toni Gardemeister (FIN) Suzuki SX4 WRC
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