WRC

Rally Australia: Skoda leg two summary

Toni Gardemeister (8th) happy with his Octavia WRC. Kenneth Eriksson (11th) looks forward to a fight. After completing 20 stages, the Skoda Motorsport Team looks forward to the last four stages tomorrow and finishing the Rally Australia with a...

Toni Gardemeister (8th) happy with his Octavia WRC.
Kenneth Eriksson (11th) looks forward to a fight.

After completing 20 stages, the Skoda Motorsport Team looks forward to the last four stages tomorrow and finishing the Rally Australia with a 100% reliability record. Toni Gardemeister ended the second day of the rally in eighth position, almost a minute behind the Ford pairing of Markko Martin and Francois Duval.

Gardemeister explained: "I have been happy with the handling of my Skoda Octavia WRC all day. I was a little bit faster in the morning, but that's because I prefer the longer stages. It is much harder to find a good rhythm when the stages are so short."

Toni was realistic about his chances of improvement, saying: "The two guys in front of me are almost a minute ahead. Under normal circumstances we cannot hope to catch them, but I am certainly going to try anyway."

His co-driver Paavo Lukander was ebullient when arriving in Perth: "Things went really well today," he said. "The car was nicely balanced and Toni drove well. That's why I stopped the team changing to different tyres. It could have altered the good balance we had just achieved." To round off a hard day's work, he summoned his driver to help change a flat tyre just before the time control, ready for the Superspecial at the end of the day.

Kenneth Eriksson was much happier with his car today, commenting: "It was not easy for us as we were the first car on the road. This meant we had to 'clean' the road for the following cars which is a handicap of course." On stage 11 the Swede hit a tree stump with the right front wheel which necessitated some provisional repairs, but otherwise he had a trouble free run.

Since they were only about five seconds behind Mitsubishi's Jani Paasonen after his roll, this crew had something to aim for again, according to co-driver Tina Thörner: "This morning, with that huge gap in front of us, we had nothing to go for," she said. At the end of the day Paasonen had a jump start at the superspecial and his slim lead over Eriksson changed in a five second deficit. Said Tina: "Now we have a new focus: we must try to stay ahead of Jani!"

Within the Skoda Motorsport Team there were more smiles than before as team principal Pavel Janeba commented: "Toni did a good job today, posting some very good stage times. But fifty seconds is a lot and we don't want to risk anything, because a place higher would still not give us any points." Janeba also praised Kenneth Eriksson, observing: "I am glad Kenneth is still fighting - it proves he is a highly motivated sportsman."

-skoda-

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Series WRC