Former Ford factory driver Toni Gardemeister will return to the Intercontinental Rally Challenge in an Opel Corsa S2000 on next week's Asturias Rally
Gardemeister replaces Norwegian youngster Andreas Mikkelsen, who drove the Corsa on the last IRC round, the Barum Rally, but suffered electrical problems during the Czech Republic event.
Gardemeister is delighted to be back competing at IRC level, having driven on the opening round of the 2009 season.
"These cars are going to be the standard in top class rallying in years to come so it's good to be given the opportunity to be part of the development work on the Corsa," said the Finn.
Gardemeister is well acquainted with the pace required at the front of the IRC. He was running in a potential podium place when he retired a privately-run Abarth Grande Punto on the final night of the Monte Carlo Rally.
David Whitehead, managing director of the MSD team Gardemeister will drive for, said he was looking forward to seeing Gardemeister drive the car on next week's Oviedo-based Spanish event, where the Finn will have the chance to benchmark the car against the IRC pacesetters.
"Testing behind closed doors is vital to fine tune many components, but the real test is in competition conditions and Spain will once again provide us with a valuable opportunity to develop the Corsa," said Whitehead.
The fifth Intercontinental Rally Challenge was the best yet, and it was Skoda UK driver Andreas Mikkelsen who emerged as champion from a tense five-way shootout at the season finale. Matt Beer reviews the season