Auriol signs for Skoda

Skoda has signed former world champion Didier Auriol to drive on all 14 rounds of the World Rally Championship next season

Auriol signs for Skoda

The Frenchman will compete alongside Toni Gardemeister and Auriol believes this mix of youth - Gardemeister is 27 - and experience is just what the Czech team needs.

"It is great to be part of a works team again," said Auriol, who has missed most of 2002 after being dropped by Peugeot at the end of 2001. "I have made a good choice with Skoda Motorsport because we will make a perfect match. I know I have a lot of experience I can pass on."

Auriol and Gardemeister have been team-mates before, when the pair drove for SEAT in 2000 and Gardemeister is looking forward to renewing the partnership.

"I am really looking forward to continuing with Skoda," said the Finn. "Didier is one of the great drivers of all time and it is fantastic to be in the same team as him again. On top of that he is a great character and a good companion."

Auriol will be co-driven by Denis Giraudet, who had been linked to Colin McRae when the Scot moves to Citroen at the end of the season.

But the future of Skoda's current driver Kenneth Eriksson is not yet clear. In a statement the team said it was 'still in discussions' with the Swede, as plans for a third works entry have not yet been finalised. Likewise, Czech hotshoe Roman Kresta has still to finalise a deal with the team for next year.

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