Gardemeister maintains Suzuki’s points-scoring run
Suzuki WRC pilot Toni Gardemeister at Uddeholm Swedish Rally.

At the end of the second day of the Swedish Rally, flying Finn Toni Gardemeister has maintained Suzuki’s points-scoring pace on the event so far. Gardemeister’s SX4 WRC returns to parc ferme in Karlstad occupying eighth place, although it has not been an entirely straightforward day for him. Today’s action consisted of six stages split into two loops of three with a midday remote service halt at Hagfors.

On SS11, Vargasen 1, Gardemeister spun off the road and SS12 was cancelled due to deteriorating road conditions. Once again the six forest stages were made treacherous by plenty of loose gravel, so punctures were a constant risk. Despite the variable levels of grip, Gardemeister drove an extremely mature rally to end the day in a points-scoring eighth. His team mate Per-Gunnar Andersson was forced to watch from the sidelines, having retired with a head gasket problem yesterday.

The final day of the event tomorrow is made up of six more challenging stages totalling 97.22 competitive kilometres, before the finish ramp back in Karlstad at around 15:00 (CET).

Car news – Suzuki SX4 WRC n.11 (Gardemeister):

Gardemeister had a partial repeat of the hydraulic problem that affected him yesterday. However, the Finn’s biggest problem occurred when he slid off the road just a kilometre into SS11. It was not a big mistake, but rather than help him extricate the car, the watching spectators accidentally pushed him further into the ditch! By the time Gardemeister and his co-driver Tomi Tuominen had resolved the problem, three minutes had been lost – dropping him to 10th place, a minute off eighth position.

Gardemeister fought back strongly during the afternoon, despite the fact that it was not possible to repair the hydraulic problem fully with the limited equipment allowed at the remote service halt in Hagfors. He ends the day back in the points, and with every prospect of claiming another points finish for Suzuki at the end of the rally tomorrow.

Driver news:
Toni Gardemeister: “When we went off it was like nothing I have ever experienced before in my rally career: instead of helping us the spectators accidentally made the situation worse! Otherwise, we could have been out of there in 10 or 15 seconds. It’s been a very tough day again, but I’m sure we can score some points so that will definitely be our aim tomorrow. It’s going to be impossible to catch the car in front so we just need to concentrate on staying out of trouble and not making any mistakes.”

Team news:
Nobuhiro Tajima, Suzuki World Rally Team principal: “The Swedish Rally has not got any easier for us, but we have a points finish within our grasp, which would be a fantastic way to end what is only the second rally of our first full season. Before we can even think about that we have to get through the final day tomorrow, which will almost be as long as today when you take into account the stage that has been cancelled. Toni, as well as the rest of the team, needs to focus on keeping concentrated and doing the best job possible in these tricky circumstances.”

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