25 Apr 08
Finland's Toni Gardemeister will not restart the Jordan Rally on Saturday because the engine in his Suzuki SX4 WRC was too badly damaged when he hit a rock on SS3.
Gardemeister started the rally as one of the top-ten drivers on the first two stages, but he was forced out of the rally after five kilometres of the third stage when a rock hit his engine’s sump. The extent of the damage means it is not possible for him to run as a Superally entrant on day two.
“I was happy with the first couple of stages,” said Gardemeister. “In some corners, we were going a little bit wide, but the times were quite okay. I thought this was going to be a good event for us. We had a real chance to get some good points here. I knew P-G had had a problem and I was thinking that we needed to make sure there was one SX4 at the finish, so I wasn’t pushing very hard. I wasn’t flat-out and didn’t want to take the big risks. I don’t know which stone it was that caused the problems Čthere were so many of them about! As soon as I heard the engine starting to sound like it wasn’t right in SS3, I pulled over and switched it off. I am also upset for the team because I wanted to get a result for them on this rally. I came here to drive well and to compete with the other cars on even ground. I do believe we could have made a result, particularly when you look at how many of the cars are having problems in these really tough conditions.”
Paul Wilding, Suzuki World Rally Team manager said: “Toni’s problem was unfortunate. It’s very unlucky for the rock to hit precisely the wrong part of the bottom of the car and to cause a problem like this. But this has happened to Toni and cost him and the team dearly. We all feel for Toni and Tomi [Tuominen] they had made good times on the first two stages.”