Ford has finished in the top eight positions in each of the last 48 rounds of the World Rally Championship, but will the inexperience of new driver pairing Toni Gardemeister and Roman Kresta jeopardise the team's record at this weekend's Rally Sardinia?

Ford has finished in the top eight positions in each of the last 48 rounds of the World Rally Championship, but will the inexperience of new driver pairing Toni Gardemeister and Roman Kresta jeopardise the team's record at this weekend's Rally Sardinia?

Since the Monte Carlo Rally in 2002, Ford have consistently had at least one car in a points scoring position in each rally, totalling 48 events. However, that feat was partly achieved by the more experienced driver combination of Markko Martin and Francois Duval.

Former Skoda driver Gardemeister was forced to retire early from last year's inaugural event on the Mediterranean island, while Kresta has never competed in the rally before. However, following recent testing in Sardinia, both drivers are confident that they would be able to match the pace of their rivals.

"I learned something about the roads last year when I rejoined on the second day, but I had problems so the benefits weren't great," said Gardemeister, who currently lies fifth in the drivers' points standings.

"If you test on stages in the same area, it gives a feeling for their characteristics, but it's never the same as driving the exact route. There are so many new stages this year, though, that no-one will have an advantage. Last year's roads were narrow with a lot of stones on the edge. I think this year's rally will be faster, but we won't really know until we do the recce."

Admittedly, Kresta will be focused on a convincing finish after writing his car off in the shake-down ahead of the New Zealand Rally earlier this month.