Gardemeister tipped for Ford

Toni Gardemeister appears to be in pole position to replace Markko Martin as team leader at Ford for 2005. Ford team boss Malcolm Wilson acknowledges that the 29-year-old Finn is in the frame, though there is no confirmation yet of a deal

Gardemeister tipped for Ford

A move to Ford, which has lost both its 2004 drivers - Martin and Francois Duval - would represent Gardemeister's best chance yet in the World Rally Championship. He has plenty of experience in the WRC, but has yet to drive for a top-flight manufacturer team.

Gardemeister's first World Rally Car drive was with SEAT back in 1999 and he did a full season with the Spanish marque in 2000, before spending a year out of a regular drive until he joined Skoda in 2002. He has been with the Czech manufacturer ever since.

Ford's Wilson told Motorsport News: "He's definitely one of the ones on my list. I'm looking at all options at the moment. I'm very close. You've no idea how many people have telephoned me."

Gardemeister's manager Timo Jouhki is sure that his man will land a good deal for 2004, but insisted that Ford is not his only option.

"I am hoping for that," said Jouhki, "but he is well into Skoda also. He has two basic possibilities."

Gardemeister's best WRC result to date remains his first in a World Rally Car - third on the 1999 Rally New Zealand.


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