FINDLAND -- Toni Gardemeister has completed four shakedown runs this morning to iron out the last small details on the newly-homologated Škoda Octavia WRC. He and his co-driver Paavo Lukander share a quiet confidence in this rally on home ground. Still remembering last year’s drama when he dropped out on the final special stage, Toni commented: “I’m looking forward to this rally with great confidence, as this is my home turf. The engine of the new car is good and the suspension can handle jumps, which is very important. I feel no special pressure, so we are relaxed as we know the area and conditions fairly well. Of course I am not alone in this respect, since there are half a dozen Finns competing with us, not to mention all the other great drivers from elsewhere.”
The Swedish crew of Kenneth Eriksson and Tina Thörner share the same relaxed confidence today, with Kenneth having competed a dozen times in Finland before. In fact the Swedes only did one shakedown run, and pronounced themselves pleased with the new car. “I am very happy with the new Octavia and its extra power,” said Kenneth. “Of course there is still a gap between us and the top three teams. But we are hoping to stay in front of the two manufacturers we are currently leading in the World Rally Championship.
To achieve that we must score manufacturer points and here I feel we have that chance. To score points in the driver’s championship will be more difficult.”
Škoda Motorsport team principal Pavel Janeba is also optimistic. “We have no special tactics for this rally. Our drivers will do their very best to get maximum results. They know this rally very well so there is no need to give them any instructions. We will see if the new car works better than the previous one after the first stages, when we have the chance to compare results with previous rallies.” Team engineer Dietmar Metrich explained: “Our cars work well, we do not have any problems, so I am happy just like our drivers.”