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Stage 13 has again proved to be an unlucky stage for Toni Gardemeister as Škoda Motorsport’s Flying Finn was forced to retire his Fabia WRC from Rally Finland. Toni was on the start line of the stage when the engine stalled and refused to restart, leaving the team no choice but to retire its second Fabia WRC.
Toni had begun today’s second leg in 12th position and gained a place on the opening stage of the day as he became locked in an intense battle with fellow Finn Sebastian Lindholm. On a day when the route included some of the most spectacular stages of the rally, with many of the big jumps that characterise this event, Toni said this morning: “The Fabia WRC really flies well over the jumps. It is a very stable car.”
Unfortunately his rally was cut short after just one more stage, ironically on the same SS13 that saw him retire from Rallye Deutschland, proving the superstition that 13 is an unlucky number for some people.
“Obviously I am disappointed that we had to retire because until then everything on the car was working well,” he said. “We have learned a lot about suspension and transmission settings that will be good news for Rally Australia next month. We have found a fine balance with the car but we know that there is a lot more to come from it.”
Toni’s Škoda Motorsport Team colleague Didier Auriol was in touch with the team throughout this morning from his home in France where he has begun treatment for the shoulder injury that forced him to withdraw from the event yesterday morning. The shoulder has already begun to show signs of improvement and he is expected to be fit to drive in Australia.
Škoda Auto Director of Motorsport Petr Kohoutek said: “It was a pity that we suffered an engine problem because the car had worked well until then. We have collected an enormous amount of both data and experience here during two weeks of testing and the rally itself that will be extremely valuable for the next event in Australia.”
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