From Ron Salter [ 10/09/2003 ].
Click to read all other Skoda News.
Skoda are unlikely to confirm their driver lineup for the 2004 World Rally Championship until the end of October at the earliest. Young Finn Toni Gardemeister has already signed to stay for next year but team mate Didier Auriol has not yet decided whether he will stay on with the Czech outfit for another season. The decision on whether Didier stays will not come from Skoda as the Frenchman signed a 1+1 contract, the second year being his option to take and not the team's.
A Skoda spokesperson told WRC-Online: "The driver line-up will not be decided until the tarmac rallies are over. Didier has to decide then if he wants to take up his option to stay with the team."
Whilst this late date might have left Skoda with few other strong options for 2004, this weeks rule changes could mean the team are in a prime position to pick up any leftovers from the other teams - and there could well be some big names on that list with Colin McRae, Carlos Sainz, Freddy Loix and Harri Rovanpera all facing a possible year on the sidelines.
Meanwhile, the Mlada Boleslav based squad believe they have got to the bottom of the engine problem which saw Toni retire from the Rally of Finland last month.
"The engine problem was that the alternator belt broke, and pieces got jammed between the camshaft belt and the camshaft pulley. This changed the timing of the camshaft, valves were hit by the pistons, and that was it. We have increased the space between the two belts and put a cover between them," Skoda inform us.