02 Aug 08
Toni Gardemeister will start tomorrow’s final day of Rally Finland in eighth place and the only Suzuki WRC car in the event following the retirement of his team-mate P-G Andersson earlier today.
Gardemeister had a difficult start to the day and was slowed by a hydraulic problem on the first loop of stages which left him with gear-shifting problems and no power steering. The Finn, who was still suffering some pain in his right arm after going off the road yesterday, complained of a lack of engine power on the afternoon’s stages.
“My arm has been quite painful at times today,” said Gardemeister. “I didn't want to take any risks, the team and I need points from this rally - and that's the aim for tomorrow. But Matthew Wilson was not far behind and I had to push to make sure we didn't let him pass."
P-G's rally ended prematurely and in dramatic fashion when he crashed not far from the end of SS16, at the same place as Gigi Galli.
"I was caught out by a very difficult left-hand corner,” said Andersson. “The car went off the road and into a tree. Fortunately, neither myself, nor Jonas were seriously hurt, but we are both feeling quite stiff from the impact. I'm very sorry for everybody in the team. The car had been running really well; we'd had no problems at all during the event and the pace had been good. We were looking at points here, but that's the way the sport goes sometimes."
“Today has definitely been a day of mixed fortunes,” said Suzuki's team manager Paul Wilding. “Both cars were running well and Toni remains in a very strong position going into the final day. He's sensibly driving in, what he calls, preservation mode and is looking good to take points tomorrow. As for P-G, the first thing to say is that we are all very relieved that he and Jonas are both fine, that's our number one priority in an accident like this. That said, we're disappointed for him and the team - his SX4 WRC was running faultlessly and very quickly until the accident."