10 Feb 08
Toni Gardemeister finished seventh on Rally Sweden, scoring two driver points, three manufacturer points and giving the Suzuki’s team its best WRC result to date.
Following on from P-G Andersson's result in Monte Carlo two weeks ago, Gardemeister ensured that a Suzuki SX4 WRC has taken points on both rallies held so far in the 2008 World Rally Championship.
Andersson was forced to retire on the opening day of the rally with a head gasket problem, but Gardemeister had a reliable run to the finish despite some hydraulic issues and an off-road excursion on Saturday. Having fought his way back into the points after his accident, Gardemeister concentrated on consolidating his position over the final six stages. With SS18 cancelled due to lack of snow, he was able to cruise to the end in Karlstad to rack up Suzuki's second consecutive points finish.
Gardemeister said: “I'm very happy to have scored my first points for Suzuki after a tough three days. The biggest problem we had were the conditions. There was a lot of loose gravel, and so we had to soften the suspension a lot on the opening day to deal with the rough stages. Then we had a problem with the hydraulics on the second day, and also we went off the road. That was a really stupid thing, as it should have cost us just 10 or 15 seconds and in the end it took three minutes - although of course we are always grateful for any help in these situations!
“On the last day we just drove safely to the finish as there was no point in taking any risks. There's lots of development still to do but I'm basically very happy with the pace of the car considering the fact that we did comparatively little testing. By the end of the year, I'm sure we will be a lot closer to the frontrunners,” he added.