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GP Week : Issue 1
THIRD time was not so lucky for Finnish driver Toni Gardemeister despite the exciting pre-rally celebrations of his 100th start on a world championship rally. On his third outing with his current team, his Suzuki SX4 WRC started to give trouble even on the very first special stage, misfiring badly and holding up other drivers on the high altitude dusty stages. There was intermittent throttle response, and the car finally came to a stop on the fourth stage, on the Friday afternoon. At much the same time, his teammate PG Andersson’s car was also being withdrawn by the team because of engine trouble. Gardemeister’s 100 events took 12 years to accumulate, from the days when he contested Formula 2 rallies - firstly privately, then for Nissan and SEAT. In his time he has been an official World Rally driver with SEAT, Mitsubishi, Skoda and Ford with semi-official drivesv also for Peugeot and Citroen along the way. This was precisely the sort of experience vital to an emerging team such as Suzuki. Toni came to rally sport with one very special talent. In his earlier years he was well known in his native Finland as an expert display driver, driving cars balanced on two wheels, an art which he shared with his father. When asked if he would display this skill to mark his 100th world rally he declined, saying he had long since forgotten how to do it! – MARTIN HOLMES Gardemeister out of Luck 50