Toni Gardemeister says the lure of competing against some of the best rally drivers in the world is the main reason behind his decision to enter the Monte Carlo Rally at Abarth Grande Punto Super 2000.
The Finn will line up for the Italian Astra Racing team alongside co-driver Tomi Tuominen on the Intercontinental Rally Challenge opener. He will start among the favorites to win the prestigious event.
"There is very good competition in the IRC at the moment, especially on the Monte," said Gardemeister. "There are good cars and good drivers, even Mikko Hirvonen will be there. A good result would be very important for me and could really help my career."
Gardemeister, 34, has a strong record on the asphalt event. When it counted for the World Rally Championship he finished second in 2005 and third in 2006. He was running second last year until alternator problems forced his retirement on the road section heading to the 12th stage.
Despite his previous performances, he concedes his lack of preparation could count against him when the rally gets under way on Jan. 19. "It will be really tough because I haven't driven for some time and I will only get one half-day test," said Gardemeister. "But for sure I will try my best to win."