Skoda Motorsport finished the Telstra Rally Australia, the penultimate round of the World Rally Championship, with both entries in the top ten. Toni Gardemeister collected both a manufacturers’ and driver’s point with sixth overall and Kenneth Eriksson finished his rally in eighth. By beating Mitsubishi and Hyundai in Australia SkodaAuto is now tied for fourth place in the race for the Manufacturers’ Championship.
Team principal Pavel Janeba was delighted with the point in the World Rally Championship for Manufacturers, commenting, "This point is very well deserved, a reward for our efforts in recent rallies." Looking ahead to the last rally of the season, the Skoda Motorsport manager predicted, "All is still open for the conclusion of the championship. Three makes now share fourth place and the best of us can secure this spot for good."
Toni Gardemeister was happy with sixth place, although he did not like the way he inherited this point when fellow Finn Tommi Makinen’s Subaru was disqualified for being eight kilos underweight. Gardemeister, who recently drove the Fabia Group N rally car in the UK, said, "This is certainly not my favourite way of collecting a point, although of course I am happy with it." Looking back on the rally, he saw definite progress with his Skoda Octavia WRC. "The last two days of the rally went extremely well," he said. "The extra testing we did in Italy certainly did us a lot of good. It proves that we still can improve on our current performance."
Being first on the road for the second day in a row did not please Kenneth Eriksson, but he got on with the job showing the determination that he is well known for. He felt that a better position than eighth could have been possible. "We lost too much time on Friday, but the following two days we were competitive again", said the winner of the 1995 Rally Australia.
Skoda Motorsport is entering three cars for the Network Q Rally of Great Britain, November 14 – 17, with the aim of beating Hyundai and Mitsubishi for the fourth spot in the World Rally Championship. All three makes now have 9 points in the Manufacturers standings and share fourth place.Published 7 November 2002