Raikkonen expected tough season
Kimi Raikkonen has admitted he expected his rookie season to be as tough as it has been in the World Rally Championship.
The former Formula 1 world champion has crashed his Citroen C4 WRC regularly this season – ending his last WRC outing with a shakedown roll before the event had even begun.
Raikkonen said: "Our season has not gone entirely according to plan, but this is actually what I expected: it’s completely normal when you are learning something so new."
Despite the accident, Raikkonen has been one of the talking points of this year’s series and his team manager Benoit Nogier is adamant the best of Raikkonen has not been seen yet.
"He is still learning," said Nogier. "Don’t forget this is still his first year and he is still doing the events for the first time. Even next year, if he stays – and we want him to stay, he will still be learning, but it will be a little bit less hard."
Raikkonen says he has no regrets about his shift from the Ferrari Formula 1 team, adding: "Rallying is like a national sport in Finland: since I was a kid I followed it and I grew up with all these big names who were right at the front.
"So rallying is something that I always wanted to try: it was not at all a sudden decision. At the end of last year the opportunity came up so I was very happy to take it. And I’ve really enjoyed it."
Raikkonen also gave his strongest indication yet that he will remain in the WRC, adding: ‘Not so many people get the chance to compete at this level and I want to use all the lessons I have learned this year."
Raikkonen’s final outing of the season comes on Rally GB later this week, with the Cardiff-based event providing another first.
"I’m sure that Rally Great Britain is going to be a very tricky way to end the season because I hear that the grip is changing all the time and I know that the weather is going to be bad," said Raikkonen. "But you learn more by pushing yourself to the limit. I’m looking forward to it a lot."
Kimi Raikkonen, backed by Red Bull on the World Rally Championship this year, was exactly one month and four days old when the legendary Hannu Mikkola won what was then called the RAC Rally in 1979: a four-day marathon up and down the length of Great Britain in wet and wintry conditions, featuring 56 special stages and 687 competitive kilometres.
Kimi won’t have noticed the first time that the Rally Great Britain came into his life as he could not even walk, let alone drive. But several years later this fact would go on to have an immense significance, as Mikkola is one of the many Finnish rally heroes who inspired Kimi to go beyond his comfort zone and step inside a rally car.
Mikkola was one of the flying Finns who made the specialised forests of Great Britain their own, along with Henri Toivonen, Markku Alen, Tommi Makinen and Marcus Gronholm; to name just a few examples. In fact, a Finn has won in Great Britain 21 times in the 65-year history of the event.
In his first year of the World Rally Championship Kimi certainly won’t be challenging for victory in Wales, but nonetheless all these icons of the sport have made their mark on the 2007 Formula 1 World Champion.
"Rallying is like a national sport in Finland: since I was a kid I followed it and I grew up with all these big names who were right at the front," he said. "So rallying is something that I always wanted to try: it was not at all a sudden decision. At the end of last year the opportunity came up so I was very happy to take it. Our season has not gone entirely according to plan, but this is actually what I expected: it’s completely normal when you are learning something so new. But I’ve really enjoyed it. Not so many people get the chance to compete at this level and I want to use all the lessons I have learned this year. I’m sure that Rally Great Britain is going to be a very tricky way to end the season because I hear that the grip is changing all the time and I know that the weather is going to be bad, but you learn more by pushing yourself to the limit. I’m looking forward to it a lot."
The limit is a place that Kimi has always been fascinated to explore, and in Rally Great Britain he will face the possibility of torrential rain, freezing fog and maybe even patches of ice. Or possibly all three at the same time. As always though, he is able to rely on co-driver Kaj Lindstrom to guide him through all the potential pitfalls. Kaj has plenty of experience of Great Britain, having even taken part in – and won – the British Rally Championship.
"A bit like Finland, rallying is really part of the local culture in Britain," added Kaj. "There’s always a really enthusiastic crowd of spectators, and wherever we go we get massive support. We’ll need it, as these are some of the most difficult stages of the year. If it rains the surfaces just turn into mud and it becomes almost impossibly slippery. Once more, the aim here is simply for us to get to the finish, so this will be the priority. We’re here to learn and so we have to get through all the stages."
Kimi and Kaj will also have an opportunity to see some of the famed Welsh countryside this weekend as remote service is in Builth Wells, towards the middle of Wales. Rather than producing rally cars the little town is more famous for producing calves, as service is held inside one the biggest cattle markets in Wales: even bigger than the main street of Cardiff on a Saturday night…
KIMI R. AND THE CITROËN JUNIOR TEAM, PREVIEW WALES
With the new World Rally Car regulations coming in for next year, the Citroën C4 WRC will end its career on the Rally Great Britain, the final round of the 2010 FIA World Rally Championship.
Dani Sordo/Diego Vallejo and Kimi Räikkönen/Kaj Lindström will represent the Citroën Junior Team, with the aim of sealing third place in the manufacturers’ championship.
Rally Great Britain is the 13th round of the year and one of the iconic events of the World Rally Championship.
It traditionally rounds off the season, although this year both the drivers’ and the manufacturers’ titles have already been decided. But the Citroën Junior Team is still aiming to secure third place in the manufacturers’ title race (which has already been won by the Citroën Total World Rally Team*) while both Dani Sordo and Kimi Räikkönen have the chance to improve their final position in the drivers’ rankings.
[…] Having scored 21 points, Kimi Räikkönen is currently 10th in the World Championship following the 10 rallies that he has taken part in. The Finn will be back on gravel in Wales: a surface on which he scored points in Jordan, Turkey and Portugal.
“We knew that our first learning year would be a bit like this,” pointed out Kimi. “Like any driver starting off in a completely new discipline that is as specialised as rallying, I’ve had my ups and downs. I imagine that Wales will be no different. We’re going to work hard during the recce. We need to make sure that we set off at a decent pace and then gradually reduce the gap to the frontrunners as the rally goes on. Our rivals will have more experience than us on these roads, although Kaj knows some of the stages. If that means that we can keep making the pace notes in the same way as before, it’s definitely a small bonus.”
The rally route has changed slightly compared to last year. A new superspecial stage (Cardiff Bay) will kick off the action on Thursday night. The first day is a repeat of 2009. But the second day returns to some older stages such as Radnor Forest, which was last used in 1999. On the final day, the Resolfen and Margam Park stages are also slightly modified.
Da Autosprint n.43 del 26/10/2010:
[…] Poi Kimi è subito tornato a casa sua, in Svizzera. E non ha voluto rivelare ancora nulla circa il suo futuro. “Secondo me – ha dichiarato però Olivier Quesnel – è in avviate trattative con la RedBull e correrà anche l’anno prossimo con il Citroën Junior Team. Non so quando verrà dato l’annuncio, ma vedrete che resterà nei rally e con la Citroën”.
Video da Racing4 del 29/10/2010: http://www.mediafire.com/?63pghulu718s8vj
KIMI FELT THE PAIN IN SPAIN – OUT AT THE SHAKEDOWN
The Rally de Espana is well-known for being a compact event of the World Rally Championship, based on stages around the Port Aventura theme park in Salou.
But this year, the rally will be particularly short for former Grand Prix Champion and Red Bull driver Kimi Raikkonen. The flying Finn went flying a bit too early in proceedings, and damaged his car in the shakedown to the penultimate round of the World Rally Championship. The impact wasn’t a huge one, but it damaged his Citroen C4 WRC’s roll cage too badly for him to continue.
This year’s Rally de Espana is being run for the first time on both gravel and asphalt surfaces, and the shakedown stage contained a bit of both. Kimi completed one run successfully, but clipped a bank on a left-hand corner halfway through the second run, just after the gravel finished and the asphalt began. The impact tipped his car over, and it rolled. The roll cage just above co-driver Kaj Lindstrom’s seat was damaged, which meant that for safety reasons Kimi’s car was not able to start the rally.
"It was just one of those stupid things that happens sometimes: I just touched the bank and the car rolled," said the Iceman. "It’s the sort of thing that if you’re lucky you get away with it, but on this occasion there was something that damaged the roll cage on Kaj’s side of the car. We can’t restart so that’s the end of that. It’s a pity as I think it was a rally that might have suited us but now we’ll never know. I’m obviously disappointed, but I’ve been around motorsport for long enough to know that disappointments are part of the game sometimes; it’s how you deal with them that matters. Now I’m just looking forward to our next event and I’m going to concentrate on the future. That’s always more interesting than the past."
The Rally de Espana has often been described as the closest that the World Rally Championship comes to circuit racing, but Kimi will be watching it on television this year as he is now heading straight home to Switzerland.
Kaj Lindstrom is also resigned to being a spectator, but he is always able to look on the bright side of any situation. "It’s a pity, but this doesn’t really change anything for us," Kaj said. "I’ve never had a rally finish this soon before, although I’ve had some pretty short tests with some other drivers! You have to expect anything and learn from everything in this sport, so myself and Kimi have already put what happened behind us. I know Kimi and this will just make him more determined. We’re going to go away now, but we’ll come back strongly for Rally Great Britain: I’m absolutely sure of this."
Tempi da http://www.scratch-live.fr/
Raikkonen wins French national rally
Red Bull driver Kimi Raikkonen has won his first ever rally – the Rallye Vosgien which started and finished yesterday.
The Finn was driving his usual Citroen C4 WRC and was unbeaten on all six stages on the national-level French event, which ran in the Strasbourg area close to where the next round of the World Rally Championship, the Rally of France, will be based.
The event, which took Raikkoen a shade under an hour to complete, consisted of two stages run in three loops – and Raikkonen won by more than three minutes from Quentin Gilbert in a Renault Clio Maxi.
“This was a good preparation for the Rally of France,” said Raikkonen. “From what I am told, the roads on this event were fairly representative of what we will see on the next WRC round, so I am happy. It’s also good to get back into driving the car on asphalt – that’s very useful as well.”
The Citroen Junior Team is unable to test ahead of the Strasbourg-based WRC having used or pre-assigned all of its 15 test days. Competing on the Rallye Vosgien was the next best thing to a test for Raikkonen and co-driver Kaj Lindtsrom.
Räikkönen trionfa al Rally dei Vosgi
Kimi Räikkönen si è portato a casa il primo rally della sua carriera. Il finlandese, in Francia per prepararsi al prossimo appuntamento del mondiale che si correrà dall’1 al 3 ottobre sulle strade dell’Alsazia, ha partecipato insieme al solito Kaj Lindström, ad una tappa del campionato nazionale che si è corsa proprio nell’area di Strasburgo. Il rally, che consisteva in due tappe di tre giri ciascuna, ha visto Kimi portare sin da subito la sua C4 davanti a tutti vincendo tutte le prove e staccando il secondo arrivato, Quentin Gilbert su Renault Clio Maxi di ben oltre tre minuti. Il biondino ha così commentato la sua vittoria, “Questo è stato un buon allenamento in vista del Rally di Francia. Da quanto mi hanno detto le strade di questo evento sono abbastanza simili a quelle in cui passeremo nel prossimo round del WRC, quindi sono contento e poi è stato utile anche per tornare a correre sull’asfalto”. Il Rally dei Vosgi, è stata l’unica possibilità per Iceman di riprendere la mano sul terreno a lui più congeniale prima della prova mondiale, avendo il Junior Team della Citroën esaurito i 15 giorni di test concessi dal regolamento.
Raikkonen crashes out of Japan
Sintesi da Racing4, Kimi: http://www.mediafire.com/?g57uq0cgm7mvxd5
Kimi Raikkonen has crashed out of Rally Japan at the start of the final day.
The Finn had been running eighth, having won a long battle with Federico Villagra yesterday and pulled away from the Munchi’s Ford driver, but went off the road on the short but fast Bisan stage that started Sunday’s action.
Following crews reported that Raikkonen’s Citroen Junior C4 had gone a long way off the road and would be unable to rejoin, but that Raikkonen and co-driver Kaj Lindstrom had got out of the car unhurt.
Misheard note caused Raikkonen exit
Kimi Raikkonen said a misheard pace note was to blame for his retirement from Rally Japan on this morning’s opening stage.
The former Formula 1 world champion had been running eighth overall in his Citroen Junior Team C4 WRC when he went off just over halfway through the Bisan test.
His co-driver Kaj Lindstrom explained the situation, saying: “Kimi misheard a pace note call and we were a little bit too fast into the corner. The engine stalled, we ran wide and slipped off the road and down a bank.
“There was no chance to come back to the road because there were no spectators around – it’s a really disappointing end to the event, particularly after Kimi had made no mistakes for the first two days.”
Petter Solberg continues to lead the event overall after the morning’s opening test. Ford’s Mikko Hirvonen has dropped a place to Sebastien Ogier, the Finn complaining of a gearbox problem in the stage.
Q & A: Raikkonen on Japan exit
Kimi Raikkonen arrived back in Sapporo earlier than he had planned, after crashing his Citroen Junior Team C4 on the final morning.
He found time to talk exclusively to AUTOSPORT about his first experience of Rally Japan – and his rookie year in the World Rally Championship.
Q. What happened this morning?
Kimi Raikkonen: I misunderstood the note, little bit and we slid and I stall the engine. We dropped backwards [off the road].
Q. Was the note too fast?
KR: No, no, I just misunderstood it. There was nothing wrong with the note.
Q. How have you found Rally Japan?
KR: It’s been okay, actually. Some stages are quite narrow, but it hasn’t been so bad as I thought, not so difficult. Today was a silly mistake from my side not to finish the rally. There were a lot of ruts, which is something I have never driven in, but it’s okay. Not too bad.
Q. The ruts are hard work when the car is moving about so much underneath you…
KR: Yeah, but you can go very fast in them if you know. But if you don’t know 100 per cent, the car is always going to stay there, you cannot really [push hard]. It’s okay, we learned about that on this event.
Q. Did you make many changes to the notes for the second run at the stages?
KR: We made the normal amount of changes to make them faster. Some corners were quite tight, but you could go very fast.
Q. How hard was it not having a test before the event?
KR: The first morning was quite difficult. Also the car was quite difficult to drive and then we changed the car for the afternoon. It wasn’t too bad.
Q. What was wrong with the car?
KR: We change the diff, but it was a different diff [we put in]. The car was good after we made the change, I was very happy with it.
Q. Not having a gravel shakedown must have made it harder as well?
KR: For sure, if you haven’t had a test and you’ve had a tarmac rally before… it would have been more easy in the first stage with gravel shakedown, but it is what it is.
Q. And what about the year as a whole? Has the WRC been tougher than you thought?
KR: I knew it was going to be very hard and, like this rally, there are five or six guys in the front who go very fast – there’s no chance [to stay with them]. Okay maybe on some tarmac events we can be very close to them, but I knew there was no chance on this one. But we learned a lot.
If I compare here to the first rally in Sweden, we know so much more. It would be so much easier to go again on the rally you have done. I mean, it’s pretty much what I expected, as difficult as I expected. Every rally is new. It’s just the experience that we are missing.
Kimi Raikkonen Red Bull Rally Japan day three report
“Banzai!” is a typical Japanese battle cry, traditionally used by soldiers charging bravely into battle even when the odds are stacked against them. It’s all about attempting the nearly impossible, such as the modern phenomenon of the ‘banzai skydive’: the act of throwing a parachute from a flying plane and eventually jumping out after it, in the fervent hope of catching the parachute up.
Appropriately enough, the record for banzai skydiving is held by a Japanese gentleman, Yasuhiro Kubo, who waited for a courageous 50 seconds in between throwing out his parachute and deciding to go and retrieve it.
Kimi Raikkonen, the 2007 Formula One champion, has never been skydiving. But attempting Rally Japan, one of the most specialised events on the world rally calendar, with just nine WRC outings in a top car behind him was a bit like throwing the parachute out first and wondering how to catch it later.
During the first two days the Red Bull driver had a trouble-free run, climbing as high as eighth overall in the land of the rising sun. Driving a rally car is as different to Formula One as rugby is to football, but Kimi showed excellent consistency by setting eighth-fastest time on all of Saturday’s stages apart from one, where he was sixth.
The first stage this morning is where it all went wrong. Halfway through the Bisan test on Sunday, Kimi misheard a pace note. The car slid wide, the engine stalled and the crew slithered off the road. It was a very low-speed off and the Citroen was completely undamaged but with no spectators around, it was impossible to get back on the stage.
“After steering clear of mistakes for so long, it’s really disappointing that such a small thing caused us to retire,” said Kimi. “I just didn’t quite understand the note, so we were a bit too quick into the corner. I tried to get the car back but unfortunately there was nothing to do and we went off. If there had been some spectators around then we would have had no problem to get back onto the road but it was in a place where nobody was there so unfortunately that’s it. We learned a lot though and now we’ve got two asphalt rallies coming up, so we’re going to be trying our best to come away with a good result.”
Japan is turning into an unlucky event for co-driver Kaj Lindstrom, as he also failed to finish on his last outing in Hokkaido back in 2005. “We didn’t deserve this; it was nobody’s fault,” said Kaj when he and Kimi got back to service in Sapporo. “There’s a lot going on in the rally car, so it’s very easy to mishear a pace note and it was a tricky place. We were unlucky that there were no spectators, otherwise we could have continued. But there are a lot of positive things that we can take from this rally: yesterday was one of the best days we have ever driven on gravel and we are getting better all the time.”
Kimi built his reputation on asphalt, so he’s now looking forward to heading back to his favourite surface for the all-new Rallye de France at the end of this month. It’s sure to be another banzai attack from the Iceman and he can’t wait.
One ditch too much
Well, it was our second ever Rally Finland and this time we managed to get to the finish in my home rally.
The target was to collect all the miles from this super fast gravel rally. We did that, but obviously, our other target to finish in the points, didn’t work out.
It was a shame. We did a couple of small mistakes and could not hang on in TOP-10 longer than to Saturday morning.
It was a great to race in Finland. I would like to congratulate all the Finnish rally fans. Finland is a real country of rally. There were thousands of fans waving their flags on the road sides already at six o’clock in the morning. Obviously, the feeling is great, while you see all the support from your compatriots.
I have never been experienced that much support anywhere and, probably, all the Finnish rally drivers share the same feeling.
Well, they build the rally with the new format. We did two long days from the early morning to late evening. I think it was a success. At least, it was different compared to other places. The speed, the feeling and the rhytm matched well.
It gave also an extra pleasure to do it with a real top class rally car. Red Bull Citroen C4 WRC is just great. I enjoyed every minute. The power is there and the whole car is so competitive.
Obviously, we had some problems in the very beginning of the rally. It was not that easy to get to the right rhytm. We tried and tried to set up the car better and then, finally, we found it. The stage times were good and we got a nice fight with Juha Kankkunen for the P7 At least we know now, he is still very quick.
I’m never fully satisfied with the times, but we got some stages quite well together, so that we could smile a little bit.
Then there was the stage of Kolonkulma on Saturday morning. We had a slight error on one right-hander. It was that fast place, but we ended up in a deep ditch. It was impossible to get it back to the road. The front of the car broke while trying. Luckily there were enough fans to help us back.
We had some work to get back on four wheels. But finally after ten minutes of hard work we were able to continue. Everything went well after we got all the parts back during the service break. We got some important miles to the car and to the driver.
It was great to get a Finnish winner in Rally Finland. It means a lot for the Finnish rally fans.
Now it’s time to change from gravel back to tarmac. We will test in Germany during the weekend and prepare ourselves for the next big challenge. The asphalt feels more like home for me. Let’s wait and see how it goes in Germany.
Kimi Raikkonen has completed the stage, but there is heavy damage to the C4. Co-driver, Kaj Lindstrom explains :"We went wide on a right hand corner and got stuck in a ditch and then got two punctures, which cost us a lot of time."
Kimi Raikkonen’s co-driver Kaj Lindstrom on WRC radio: "We went to wide on a right bend and we got stuck in a ditch and couldn’t get out without help. We sufered two punctures. The car was undrivable, but the main thing is we made it here to the service area. We didn’t expect it to be this tough."
Kimi Räikkönen experiences the ups and downs of Rally Finland
There are lots of hippies in Finland. But rather than people who hang around talking about flower power and making love not war, a ‘hyppy’ in Finnish means a big jump.
Naturally, there are more ‘hyppys’ on Rally Finland than there are at Woodstock. Just to reinforce this impression, there are quite a few old camper vans out there too. Hippies, of course, like nothing better than getting high. And so do rally drivers. Of course we’re talking about those flat-out crests that characterise Rally Finland, sending the cars soaring for nearly a hundred metres into the air. As David Copperfield said, you’ll believe a man can fly.
With so many big jumps, it is inevitable that Rally Finland contains several ups and downs. Kimi Raikkonen experienced both during the second and final day of his home event.
On the opening stage of the day, the ‘Iceman’ got caught out by a right-hand corner and slid into a ditch. The car was undamaged but it took some time to drive out of the ditch, as for once there wasn’t a huge crowd of spectators around to help. While the crew were trying to regain the road, the front bumper of the C4 WRC became detached from the rest of it. To make matters worse, both front tyres then came off the rim. With only one spare wheel, the crew then struggled to get the other deflated tyre back on the rim and more than 10 minutes were lost in total.
Had it not been for that, then the ‘Iceman’ would have been comfortably in the points on his home event: an excellent achievement for somebody contesting the most specialised and complex rally on the calendar in a World Rally Car for the first time.
“We were a bit unlucky this morning but it’s all part of the learning process,” said Kimi, the winner of the 2007 Formula One title. “During the first day we tried not to take too many risks to be sure of making the finish, then we just got caught out on a slippery corner at the beginning of day two. With only two days in the rally this year there’s not so much chance to make up the time lost, so from then on it was a question of getting to the finish. We were able to make a lot of progress with the pace notes, which was useful, and have more kilometres behind the wheel of the car, which is the most important thing. Of course I’m a bit disappointed as there was no real motivation today but in the end getting to the finish was the main aim. It’s all about the experience.”
Kimi’s fellow Finn and co-driver Kaj Lindstrom added: “The really positive thing is we’ve continued the good work that we left off in Bulgaria. But this is a tough sport. You can have a good rally and survive all the complicated things, but then caught out by a place that is reasonably slow and straightforward, which is what happened to us today. We had been going very carefully during the first day and we thought that it might be possible to push a bit harder on day two. In the end we never really got the chance, as after we went off it was hard to find the same pace. We built up more experience though and above all we hope that everybody enjoyed watching us. There were certainly loads of people out there!”
Kimi Räikkönen gets to grips with Finnish Gravel
Red Bull driver Kimi Raikkonen has enjoyed a successful two-day test close to Jyvaskyla, a week before starting his first Rally Finland at the wheel of the Citroen Junior Team C4 WRC.
Kimi took part in the Rally Finland last year – but he was driving a less powerful Super 2000 car. This time, he will take the start in a car similar to the one that won the Rally Finland last year in the hands of Sebastien Loeb. After running consistently within the top three of his class last year, Kimi faces a much bigger challenge in 2010 thanks to the extra speed of the Citroen C4 WRC.
The 2007 Formula One World Champion tried out two different roads during the test, in order to experience the range of conditions that he will find when the rally begins in just over a week’s time. Weather conditions were cool and cloudy on Tuesday, but much warmer on
He tested all the parameters needed for success on Rally Finland: in particular suspension and damper settings, which are vital for ensuring that the car flies accurately over the huge rollercoaster crests that Rally Finland is famous for.
Kimi said: "The test went really well, and it was great for us to have this experience before starting Rally Finland. Of course it helps a bit that I have done the rally last year, but the World Rally Car is such a step up from the Super 2000 car that it is like driving a
completely different rally. We tested everything that we wanted to, and it was also useful to have the experience of preparing pace notes on these fast and technical roads. I’m really looking forward to Rally Finland: as a Grand Prix driver I never really got the chance to
compete in the top class at home before, so I think that it’s going to be a lot of fun. We made a few adjustments to the car during the test but nothing major: I think we are in a good position to start the rally now."
His experienced co-driver Kaj Lindstrom, who has competed on the Rally Finland 10 times, is also looking forward to the eighth round of this year’s World Rally Championship. "I have been lucky enough to have had some great memories of competing on the Rally Finland, but
I’m sure that this is going to be a very special one too," he said. "It’s always a huge pleasure for me and for Kimi to drive in front of our home crowd, and we hope that we can give everybody something to remember. The pre-event test went very well and we have a good feeling with the car and the pace notes. But of course the real action starts
a week on Friday!"
Kimi and Kaj will now have a few days off before the recce for the Rally Finland gets underway on Tuesday 27 July. The rally starts in the evening of Thursday 29 July and finishes on Saturday 31 July: an innovation for the 60th anniversary of the event.
Kimi prepares for his return to Finland
They say practice makes perfect, whether it’s tightrope walking or Rachmaninov’s second piano concerto. So it follows that the same is true in rallying: particularly if you happen to be a beginner like a certain Kimi Matias Räikkönen.
Over the years, Kimi’s proved that he’s game for most things, such as dressing up in a gorilla suit and calling himself James Hunt. He’s that increasingly rare animal: a racing driver with a life.
But one thing he’s not had that much practice of yet is rallying. Next weekend Kimi takes on what will be only his seventh World Championship Rally at the wheel of his Red Bull-backed Citroen C4 WRC, but it’s possibly his biggest one yet: Rally Finland.
Known as the ‘Finnish Grand Prix’ and famous for its trampoline-like crests that launch cars into the air for up to 100 metres, Rally Finland is the Monaco of the World Rally Championship; the one that all the drivers want to win.
Particularly, if like Kimi, they happen to be Finnish and blessed with the trenchant quality of sisu: that untranslatable Finnish word that means something between fire in the belly and strength in the face of adversity.
We caught up with Kimi as he tested for two days close to Jyvaskyla this week: the base for the Rally Finland from July 29-31. He comes to it with an important ace up his Nomex sleeve: of all the rallies this year, Finland is the only one he’s done before.
But as the Iceman explains, the circumstances are somewhat different…
Redbull.com: You’ve already done Rally Finland last year. Is that going to help?
Kimi Raikkonen: “It helps a bit, for sure. But last year I did it in a Fiat Punto Super 2000, which is quite a lot slower than the Citroen C4 WRC that I have now. It’s almost like driving a different rally. The speed is so much faster in the Citroen that we will have to make a completely new set of pace notes. And then I didn’t finish the rally last year because unfortunately we went off. So while some things are going to be a bit familiar, other things are going to be very different as well.”
RB: What were you testing in Finland this week?
KR: “Everything basically. That’s the thing for me this year: because every event is new to us, we’re starting from scratch with the set-up every time. I really don’t know what to expect. For example, our last rally was Bulgaria. I hadn’t even set foot in the country before we started the recce there. But in Finland it’s very fast, with lots of big jumps. So the main thing we are concentrating on there is getting the suspension and dampers right. Like all these things it is a compromise. You need to make the car stiff enough to cope with all the crests but soft enough to get good traction. That’s why we go testing.”
RB: Do you feel a lot of extra pressure at home?
KR: “Not really. I’ve been used to pressure in Formula One and in rallying there’s a little less pressure, because the atmosphere is more relaxed generally and also because it’s unrealistic for people to expect us to win in our first year. Even a podium would be a lot. Being at home means that there are even more crowds and people wanting autographs than usual but I’m certainly used to that as well. The way I look at it is that it is nice to get to drive at the top in my home country: that’s an opportunity that I never had in Formula One.”
RB: How difficult is it to cope with challenging for a win at every Grand Prix to just trying to score points on every rally now?
KR: “These things are only difficult if you are disappointed by your results and I’m not disappointed. I came into this year with my eyes open and no real expectations apart from the fact that it would be difficult to switch. And I was certainly right about that. Don’t forget that I had options in Formula One and I still have them: this is what I chose for myself. So it’s not a problem.”
RB: Finally the killer question: are you going back to Formula One?
KR: “Good question. I’ve never been asked that before. Seriously? OK, I’ll tell you: I don’t know.”
And some people say that Finns have no sense of humour…!
Team tips Räikkönen for podium
Citroen Racing director Olivier Quesnel has tipped Kimi Raikkonen for his first ever World Rally Championship podium after his strong start to Rally Bulgaria.
Despite competing on his first ever asphalt round of the WRC – and only his third sealed-surface rally – Raikkonen held fifth place this morning. The Finn was fifth fastest on both stages and 34.3 seconds off the rally lead at the midday service.
Raikkonen’s Citroen C4 WRC dropped 17.2s on the opening 20-mile test and 17.1 seconds in the next 17-miler. That compares with the 36.8 and 34.8 seconds he dropped on the first two stages last time out in Portugal (where the stages were 14 and 12 miles long).
Quesnel said: "We are very pleased to see the speed from Kimi this morning and I think he will get better this afternoon. Maybe he can make the podium this time."
Raikkonen was also pleased with his achievements on the opening loop.
"It was good this morning," he said. "We had some understeer at the end of both stages. I’m not sure what it was causing the problem, maybe the tyre was starting to move. In some corners, there was quite a lot of shit being pulled into the road by the cars ahead."
Raikkonen was hoping to make time up on the cars ahead by taking a soft Pirelli tyre for the afternoon loop. It is reported there is an 80 per cent chance of rain through the day’s fourth stage.
Räikkönen unhurt in Bulgaria crash
Kimi Raikkonen and Kaj Lindstrom escaped uninjured from the accident that caused stage four of Rally Bulgaria to be stopped.
The former grand prix driver was running fifth, and producing his best form in rallying to date, when he crashed near the end of today’s final stage.
With following crews reporting that they could not see where Raikkonen’s Citroen had ended up, there was initially concern over the condition of the crew.
But Citroen Junior team boss Benoit Nogier said the Finnish duo were unhurt.
"I don’t know exactly what happened, but in the middle of the stage Kimi went off the road and he did a half-roll," Nogier told AUTOSPORT. "The car is on its roof and he hit a tree."
Despite the accident, Nogier reckons it is possible that Raikkonen could resume under superally rules for leg two.
"From what I hear it seems the car could be okay for tomorrow," Nogier said.
He added that the team had been thrilled with Raikkonen’s pace prior to the crash.
"It’s a shame because Kimi was going very well," said Nogier. "He showed very good speed this morning and particularly in this stage. He took the soft tyres when everyone else was on the hard and it seems his choice could’ve been quite good."
Räikkönen rapid before crash
The split times from the fourth stage of Rally Bulgaria have shown that Kimi Raikkonen was ahead of Sebastien Loeb for the first two sectors of the 17-mile Belken Lake test.
Raikkonen was enjoying his most competitive stage of his World Rally Championship career before he rolled off the road not far from the end of the test.
At the first split, just under a mile from the start, the Citroen Junior Team driver was a tenth of a second faster, but in the next four miles he pulled a further three tenths out of the six-time World Rally champion.
Raikkonen then dropped time to Loeb, but was still only five seconds behind him when he went off the road. Had he finished the stage, Raikkonen would likely have halved the gap between his time and Loeb’s fastest time.
Citroen Junior Team principal Benoit Nogier said: "We’ve been very pleased with the pace we have seen from Kimi today. And in this stage in particular, he was going really well."
Raikkonen’s Citroen is currently on its way back to the service park on the back of a recovery truck, but following an initial inspection from Citroen technicians it is thought unlikely he will return for the second day of competition. Confirmation of whether he restarts is expected later this evening.
Three questions to Kimi Räikkönen ahead of WRC Rally Bulgaria.
Q: How did you get on with the Citroën C4 WRC on asphalt so far?
Kimi Raikkonen: “I was keen to drive on asphalt since the very start of the season. From the very first few kilometres in testing, I had a really good feeling with the car. That feeling was confirmed when we took part in a rally in Italy, which I enjoyed hugely. Even if we missed out on victory on the final special stage, we can only be pleased with our performance. The whole team helped us a lot on our asphalt debut. The experience that we’ve built up since the start of the season is beginning to pay off.”
Q: Is being on asphalt an advantage for you?
KR: “Even though I’ve spent several seasons in Formula One, the asphalt you find on circuits is not at all comparable to what we will encounter in rallying. Formula One and rally are two completely different disciplines. In the WRC, we will be competing on a number of different asphalt rallies with very diverse characteristics. You can’t compare the Rally Bulgaria with the Catalunya Rally, or with the roads in Germany or France. In just one stage you can go from wide and flowing roads to narrow or bumpy sections. The grip levels change from one corner to another too. It’s also vital to have a good feeling with your co-driver and the pace notes, as well as being able to make the most of a well-balanced car. ”
Q: What do you expect from the Rally Bulgaria?
KR: “It’s certainly going to be a very different type of playing field, and that is one of the things I like most about rallying. The flip side of this is that rallying is a very hard sport for anybody new to it. This first asphalt rally of the season will be a very important part of my learning process in the WRC. I’ve realised that it is vital to pick things up as you go along and not try to run before you can walk. My objective is to get to the finish and completely understand my Citroën C4 WRC. We’ll see where we are at the end of the first day and then try to close the gap to our rivals.”
E un commento di Jean Alesi sull’esperienza di Kimi nei rally:
A proposito dell’esperienza di Raikkonen nei rally, da molti giudicata negativa a causa della mancanza di risultati di un certo rilievo, l’ex ferrarista Jean Alesi ha recentemente difeso il finlandese: “Sono convinto che ciò che Kimi sta facendo nei rally è davvero pregevole. Immaginate che cosa significhi per un pilota ricominciare daccapo in una specialità che è l’esatto opposto rispetto a quella in cui ha sempre gareggiato. Per quello che sta facendo, per il coraggio di affrontare con se stesso una sfida tanto difficile, io lo ammiro”.
Raikkonen sorprende al "Lanterna"
di Valentina Zuliani
Quando Kimi Raikkonen ha detto addio alla Formula 1 per il mondiale rally in molti hanno criticato la sua scelta: “Non farà mai niente”, “Verrà umiliato dai campioni veri del WRC” erano le frasi più in voga. Ma Kimi, vero e proprio Iceman a tutti gli effetti, ha fatto spallucce e dopo un paio di uscite andate male, il Messico su tutte, ha iniziato a prenderci gusto e a conquistare posizioni in classifica e punti nel mondiale. Non saranno i livelli di Loeb ma il nuovo Raikkonen versione rallista è sempre più convincente e l’ha dimostrato ancora una volta durante il rally della Lanterna, a Genova, nel week-end appena passato.
Ci sono due modi in cui questo rally può essere raccontato. Uno è la cronaca della corsa, l’altro è un insieme di emozioni che ogni persona che ha la fortuna di partecipare ad un rally, qualsiasi esso sia, può vivere.
Iniziamo con la cronaca. Sebastien Ogier ha vinto il Rally della Lanterna, un’ulteriore conferma del suo talento dopo la bella vittoria del Portogallo. Il francese ha trovato un po’ di difficoltà durante le prime speciali ma ha avuto la zampata del campione nelle ultime, riuscendo ad agguantare un successo che sembrava difficile. Ma la vera sorpresa del week end l’ha riservata Kimi Raikkonen che, con una prova di alto livello, ha conquistato il secondo gradino del podio. Il finlandese, dopo aver concluso la speciale del Palasport di venerdì sera al secondo posto, con un ritardo di pochi decimi sul compagno di team, ha incantato nella giornata di sabato.
Oltre ad una guida precisa e spettacolare, Raikkonen si è mostrato molto attento alle condizioni ambientali, facendo una scelta migliore di pneumatici rispetto ad Ogier, che gli ha permesso di guadagnare fino a 20 secondi sul compagno di team durante le speciali della mattina. Il campione del mondo di Formula 1 del 2007 è riuscito a vincere anche la sua prima speciale in carriera, la PS4 Torriglia, sbaragliando la concorrenza e rifilando al secondo classificato, Marco Silva, ben 8”8.
Prima delle speciali del pomeriggio, però, Ogier ha cambiato le gomme ed è riuscito, così, a recuperare secondi su secondi a Raikkonen. I due sono arrivati all’ultima speciale con solamente 2”4 di differenza. Il fresco vincitore del rally di Portogallo ha messo sul piatto della bilancia la sua maggior esperienza ed è riuscito a prevalere per soli 5”7. Sul terzo gradino del podio è salito Maurizio Ferrecchi, già vincitore di quattro edizioni del Rally della Lanterna e visibilmente emozionato nel condividere il podio con due campioni del WRC.
La Citroen ha mandato i suoi piloti alla manifestazione genovese per effettuare dei test in vista del prossimo appuntamento del mondiale WRC, che si terrà sull’asfalto della Bulgaria a luglio, e si è detta soddisfatta della doppietta e delle prestazioni dei suoi due alfieri.
Ogier ha ribadito ancora una volta di essere pronto a raccogliere l’eredità di Loeb, ma le buone notizie vengono soprattutto da Kimi Raikkonen. Il finlandese si è mostrato a suo agio sull’asfalto e ha potuto sfruttare la sua esperienza di pilota di Formula 1 per spingere al massimo. In particolare, i suoi trascorsi formulistici sono stati ben visibili durante la speciale inaugurale del Palasport. Le sue traiettorie, così vicine alle barriere, hanno fatto assaporare a tutti i presenti l’aria degli autodromi di Formula 1.
E ora passiamo alle emozioni perché è di emozioni che è fatta l’anima dei rally. Innanzitutto l’adrenalina, quella che hanno provato tutti i partecipanti (quest’anno a Genova c’erano oltre 80 equipaggi) nello sfidarsi non tanto per la vittoria ma per il gusto di esserci, di mettersi alla prova. E poi la gioia della gente: dai bambini accompagnati dai genitori a sentire il rombo dei motori da vicino, fino ai più anziani che rivivevano i ricordi delle edizioni passate e li confrontavano con quelli di oggi.
Ma quest’anno c’era un interesse in più a Genova. Tutti erano curiosi di vedere come si sarebbe comportato Kimi Raikkonen. Il pilota che negli ultimi anni di Formula 1 è stato descritto come distaccato, freddo, noncurante dei suoi fan e restio a concedersi, sembra essere una persona diversa da quello che si è visto a Genova. Kimi, infatti, è apparso disteso e rilassato ed è stato molto disponibile con i fan, a cui ha concesso autografi e foto. Senza gesti plateali o forzati, ha saputo regalare emozioni vere ai veri appassionati di motori. È bastato un saluto con la mano dal podio verso l’angolo dei suoi sostenitori per scatenare un tifo da stadio e un divertimento generale.
Ed è stata proprio la cerimonia del podio il momento più emozionante della due giorni genovese. I terzi classificati, Ferrecchi e Florean, ormai veterani del Rally della Lanterna, erano felicissimi del loro terzo posto dietro ai due campioni del Citroen Junior Team, tanto da dire che quella classifica l’avrebbero fotografata e tenuta come ricordo per i posteri a dimostrazione della loro presenza. Simpaticissimi anche Ogier e il suo navigatore Ingrassia che sulle note della Marsigliese sembrava dirigere il pubblico come un maestro d’orchestra.
E poi il momento dello champagne con piloti e navigatori che correvano a spruzzare il pubblico per condividere la loro gioia in un momento che sembrava una festa in piazza tra amici. Dopo le foto ufficiali gli equipaggi se ne sono andati lasciando nel cuore di tutti i presenti un ricordo bellissimo.
L’edizione 2010 del Rally della Lanterna verrà ricordata come delle più emozionanti e di più grande prestigio vista la presenza di due piloti del mondiale WRC. Ma sarà ricordata anche, e soprattutto, per il primo podio da rallista di Kimi Raikkonen. Un Iceman inedito, diverso da com’era descritto quando correva in Formula 1. Non una persona capricciosa e viziata, non un pilota demotivato e apatico. Ma un uomo che ama guidare e mettersi alla prova. Un pilota che vuole fare il pilota, non il personaggio da copertina e che ora, grazie al rally, sembra aver trovato la sua dimensione ideale.
Ice Man vs. Iron Man: Räikkönen prevails in the Red Bull Clash on Erzberg
It was the Clash of the Titans on Saturday evening on Austria’s notorious Erzberg (Iron) Mountain when Ice Man Kimi Raikkonen met KTM’s Iron Man Taddy Blazusiak in a race to the top as part of the notorious Erzberg Rodeo, the toughest offroad challenge on the planet.
The unique challenge, which pitted Kimi in the rally car against Taddy on the KTM 530 EXC was organized by Red Bull as part of the Rodeo program.
But in one mad timed dash for the summit it was the Flying Finn Raikkonen, together with his co-driver Kaj Lindstroem who came off best in their WRC (World Rally Championship) Citroen CR4 racing car, clocking 10:28 minutes to outstrip KTM’s extreme Enduro specialist Blazusiak who finished in 11:06 minutes. Raikkonen, the 2007 Formula One world champion and winner of 18 GPs is in his second season of WRC competition. He registered a top speed of more than 200 kmh on the fastest part of the ascent.
Taddy chose the fastest Enduro in the KTM model lineup, a 530 EXC, pimped with extras from the KTM Power Parts range for the challenge and in doing so set the fastest time ever up the mountain on two wheels to again stamp his name in the Erzberg record books. The Polish extreme Enduro specialist last year completed his hat trick of wins in the Red Bull Hare Scramble and will be on the hunt tomorrow for a fourth bite of the cherry. For Sunday’s race he will be back on his agile KTM 250 EXC two-stroke.
"It was a good event and fun to have this competition," Raikkonen said. "In the end there was not really a big difference between Taddy and me."
Taddy too was gracious in defeat saying: "This was all about fun but I gave 100% and finally Kimi was the right winner." Then he went off to wash Kimi’s car, the price he had to pay for losing the challenge.
Räikkönen wins in a rally car
Former Grand Prix star claimed his first victory in a rally car – when he defeated enduro bike star Taddy Blasuziak at the Red Bull Hare Scramble in Austria.
Raikkonen, driving his regular Citroen C4 WRC, and Blasuziak – riding his usual KTM – took turns to set a time on a tight 13-kilometre gravel stage carved out of a mountainside quarry.
In the end, Raikkonen won the challenge by 28 seconds – despite rough conditions that his co-driver Kaj Lindstrom compared to the old Safari Rally.
Raikkonen said: “It’s the first time that I’ve ever done anything like this and I really enjoyed myself. It was a very close contest and in the end I think our better top speed in the rally car is what helped us. In the slow parts, it was much more evenly matched.”
Blazusiak added: ““Really, it was all about the fun. It was a real privilege for me to compete against Kimi and I hope that we put on a good show.”
Raikkonen now travels to northern Italy to take part in the Rally della Lantern near Genoa next weekend: part of his preparation for the asphalt-heavy second part of the World Rally Championship.
Kimi Räikkönen takes on Taddy Blazusiak at the Erzberg Rodeo showdown
Red Bull driver Kimi Raikkonen faced a brand new different challenge today, when he took on multiple trial bike champion Taddy Blazusiak at a breathtaking head-to-head race in Austria.
After a hugely successful Formula One career, in which Kimi claimed the 2007 world title and 18 Grand Prix wins, the Finn is competing on the World Rally Championship for the first time this year. But on one of his rare weekends off, Kimi took part in a spectacular motorsport duel against another well-known Red Bull athlete.
Driving his usual Citroen C4 WRC, Kimi faced a rocky and twisty 13-kilometre stage at the Erzberg Rodeo, carved out of a spectacular mountainside quarry. His objective was to beat Polish enduro rider Taddy: who has made this territory his own by winning the Red Bull Hare Scramble, the highlight of the Erzberg Rodeo, for the past three years.
On the face of it the machines could not be more different. Kimi’s Citroen C4 World Rally Car weighs 1230 kilograms, puts out around 300 horsepower and accelerates from 0-100 kilometres per hour in just over four seconds. The KTM trials bike ridden by Taddy weighs just 122 kilograms, has 71 horsepower and takes a bit longer to pick up speed.
However, the agility of the KTM bike – as well as Taddy’s unparalleled knowledge of the dramatic course – made it a very close encounter. The stage was extremely rough and bumpy: a bit like the legendary Safari Rally in places. After a tight and twisty start, the road opened up and became quicker: handing the advantage to the rally car at the finish. In the end, Kimi beat Taddy by just over 25 seconds, watched by more than 30,000 people.
As part of the forfeit that had been agreed beforehand, Taddy was then faced with the task of washing Kimi’s car at the finish. "Really, it was all about the fun today," said Taddy, who now moves onto the serious business of trying to win the Red Bull Hare Scramble for the fourth consecutive time on Sunday. "It was a real privilege for me to compete against Kimi and I hope that we put on a good show. I tried my hardest, but in the end it wasn’t quite enough, so now I just have to congratulate Kimi. And wash his car too!"
Kimi concluded: "It’s the first time that I’ve ever done anything like this and I really enjoyed myself. It was a very close contest and in the end I think our better top speed in the rally car is what helped us. In the slow parts, it was much more evenly matched. I like bikes a lot, so it was great to meet Taddy and chat with him. Now I have some time free in Austria, so I am going to come back and watch the Red Bull Hare Scramble on Sunday to wish Taddy luck. It’s really exciting to watch."
Räikkönen: “Sapevo che sarebbe stato difficile”
Kimi Raikkoen ha marcato i suoi primi punti nel WRC in Giordania e in Turchia. Il Finlandese sa che sta progredendo ma resta cosciente del gap che lo separa dai migliori.
Kimi Raikkonen, in occasione del suo quarto Rally con la Citroen Junior Team lo scorso weekend in Turchia, ha realizzato il suo primo risultato nei top 5. Una bella prestazione per il Campione del Mondo di F1 2007, soddisfatto di vedere progressi corsa dopo corsa. “Sto migliorando dappertutto – riconosce a Autohebdo di questa settimana. – Sapete benissimo quali sono le tappe da fare! Tutto avviene nello stesso tempo. Poco a poco, tutto mi sembra migliore e più semplice.”
Tuttavia, il Finlandese sa che non ha ancora raggiunto il livello di competitività massimo che potrebbe garantirgli invece la sua macchina. Per progredire, Kimi Raikkonen ha deciso di non prendersi dei rischi, una strategia che gli ha permesso di raccogliere i suoi primi punti. “Quello che conta, è accumulare i kilometri, e dunque arrivare al traguardo. I punti non sono che la conseguenza. Il loro numero dipende dagli eventi che in gara hanno colpito i migliori. In Giordania, ho trovato le prove speciali talmente difficili che non ho mai preso dei rischi. I miei punti sono dovuti al semplice fatto di essere arrivato al traguardo. In Turchia, non è stata la stessa cosa. All’inizio, ho cercato soprattutto di guidare. In seguito, ho avuto la meglio, regolarmente, su Villagra e Wilson. Non è ancora il “top”, ma è una prima soddisfazione.”
Tuttavia, per il Finlandese è arrivato il momento di conoscere anche delle serie difficoltà, come in occasione del Rally di Giordania, dove la complessità del terreno l’ha obbligato ad adottare un ritmo poco elevato. “La Giordania è stata orribile. E’ cieco, tortuoso. Mi sono sentito perso. Volevo assolutamente arrivare al traguardo, e per farcela, non avevo altra scelta se non quella di essere lento”.
Kimi Raikkonen impara dunque passo dopo passo, in una disciplina che lui scopre kilometro dopo kilometro. “Sapevo sarebbe stato difficile. Non è peggio di quello che mi aspettassi. Salvo in Giordania. Là ho veramente sofferto.” Ma, pur restando lucido, il Finlandese non è comunque meno ambizioso. “Conosco il gap che mi separa dai primi. So che posso riuscire a fare dei tempi intermedi simili ai loro. Devo solo moltiplicare questi momenti. Sto migliorando, ma quinto a sei minuti, non è certo ciò che voglio”.
Räikkönen boosted by Turkey result
Kimi Raikkonen believes his fifth place in the Rally of Turkey a week ago will help as he strives to improve his competitiveness in the World Rally Championship.
He was one of few drivers not to crash or puncture a tyre on the harsh, rocky stages in Turkey and recorded his highest finish so far.
"It’s a sign that we’re going in the right direction," said Raikkonen. "In Jordan the speed was not so good but we finished the rally; in Turkey it was bit better and we finished fifth.
"In fact, we did not do anything that was very different: it was just a question of having more time in the car and working with the pace notes. In some places I felt confident, in others less confident. But for sure, a result like this helps."
Raikkonen will miss the next event in New Zealand, even though his Citroen Junior team-mate Sebastien Ogier is now entered for it. But Raikkonen is hoping for another test in the C4 ahead of his next rally, in Portugal at the end of May.
Full house of points for the Citroën Junior Team!
Sebastien Ogier and Julien Ingrassia, the leaders for 12 of the Rally of Turkey’s 23 special stages, have finished in fourth overall at the end of the event. Kimi Raikkonen and Kaj Lindstrom are fifth, their best-ever result with the C4 WRC. The Citroen Junior Team becomes the outfit to score the most points at the end of round four of the FIA World Rally Championship.
Kimi Raikkonen also continued making progress to finish fifth, his best result in world rallying. "I feel more and more confident with the Citroen C4 WRC," he said. "I’m very happy with the pace that we are able to maintain without taking any risks. We are able to get closer now to the drivers who are in front of us, which is our key objective. The hard work we have done with the team is now paying off. I’m feeling more and more confident. We’ve got a few weeks now before our next rally but our goal remains unchanged: we will have to continue to improve."
Thanks to the reliability of its two Citroen C4 WRCs and its crews, the Citroen Junior Team became the team that scored the most World Championship manufacturer points in Turkey, with a total of 27. The Citroen Junior Team reinforced its third position in the standings, behind two factory teams, after four rounds of the World Rally Championship.
"We’ve been through a rally with plenty of twists and turns," concluded Benoit Nogier, the Citroen Junior Team manager. "Some of those things went our way, but we also had a stroke of bad luck with Sebastien’s puncture yesterday. This takes nothing away from his excellent performance. The cars had no problems at all. Our Citroen C4 WRCs are reliable and our drivers have proved that they are extremely competitive. Kimi has driven his best rally since the start of the season. It wasn’t only a rally of attrition; he got past some of his rivals on pure pace and that is the proof that he is making progress. It’s very encouraging for the entire team. We now head to New Zealand with Sebastien Ogier, highly- motivated to score another good result!"
Kimi overcomes (almost) everything in Turkey
Kimi Raikkonen enjoyed a fantastic Rally of Turkey, finishing fifth overall to add more points to his rally total and score his best ever result in a rally car. But while Kimi’s reactions and car control are awesome, there are some things that even a former Grand Prix champion cannot control – such as erupting volcanoes.
More than 500 people from the different world rally teams have been left stranded in Turkey – and Kimi and Kaj are two of them. Kimi’s solution will probably consist of flying to somewhere in Italy and then embarking on a long car journey back to his home in Switzerland.
Kimi’s Citroen Junior Team will head back to their base in Paris on a fleet of buses, while other people are looking at solutions involving boats and trains. Ironically, the rally’s base in Istanbul was the traditional terminus of the Orient Express, the luxury train service that used to link France’s capital with Turkey.
The world of rallying may not always be glamorous, but Kimi is thoroughly enjoying it after a fault-free Rally of Turkey in which he showed that he is a quick learner. On only his ninth-ever rally, the Iceman beat several drivers with far more experience and set stage times that were never out of the top 10 – and often in the top six.
"I’m really pleased with the way it’s gone," said Kimi. "There was nothing particularly special; we just paid good attention to the pace notes and made sure that we made no mistakes. The stages were really tough, particularly on the last day when it was very muddy: it felt like driving on ice. I’m learning all the time and that’s a really nice feeling: a bit like my early days of circuit racing. I’m very happy, although I have no idea exactly how we are getting home tonight. It really doesn’t matter; I’m sure we’ll find a way…"
Kaj Lindstrom was also reminded of his earlier days in rallying. "It’s been really nice to be involved in a new project from the very beginning, and to help a driver develop in rallying," he said. "The fact that it is with Kimi and Red Bull just makes it all the more special for me. I have to say that he has been really impressive on this event: you would never guess that he has so little experience in a rally car. I know that we can build on this progress now."
The next event for Kimi and Kaj in the Red Bull Citroen will be the Rally of Portugal from May 28-30, but before then they are hoping to do some testing in order to increase their experience.
The people who were beginning to write off Kimi Raikkonen will have to think again too. The Finn made a big step forward in Turkey, not only steering clear of mistakes but also pulling away from a few drivers with plenty more experience. Let’s not forget that this was only his ninth-ever rally of any description, and that before Turkey he had only ever completed two gravel rallies in the Citroen. So to set a time in the top 10 on every stage and finish fifth overall was quite an achievement.
For Loeb and Raikkonen, it was the somewhat less stressful matter of finding a place to land their private planes; but even so it’s hardly what they are used to. Turkey was a rally that will be remembered by everybody for quite some time to come.
Three questions to Kimi Räikkönen ahead of Rally Turkey
You scored your first World Rally Championship points in Jordan. Was that the first mission accomplished for this season?
“My only aim on my third WRC event with the C4 was just to reach the finish in Jordan. We saw particularly difficult road conditions with very specialised stages, which were extremely slippery and had very few reference points. The first day was definitely the hardest one I have ever contested throughout my short career in rallying. So I was really pleased to get through all these hazards and not to make any big mistakes. We weren’t particularly quick but this is just a phase we have to go through in order to make progress.”
How do you see your progress at the wheel of the Citroën C4 WRC?
“The terrain in Jordan was very difficult to Mexico. Over in Mexico, I felt quite confident. So I decided to push a little bit harder and then I went off. In Jordan, we decided to stay at a safe pace in order to be sure of getting to the finish. But I learn more about the Citroën C4 WRC and how to drive it with every kilometre. At the end of each stage, I have the feeling that I’ve learned a bit more. I’m beginning to feel more comfortable, and perhaps most importantly of all, I’m really enjoying myself in the WRC!”
Will the kilometres you covered in Jordan allow you to approach the Rally of Turkey with more confidence?
“Once more, we’re going to be discovering a very different environment in Turkey. The experience is coming to us step by step, but each rally is new. Once more, the goal is to be there at the finish. We’ll see where we are at after the start of the rally and if we get the chance, we will try to reduce the gap to the leaders a bit.”
Kimi Räikkönen and Kaj Lindström scored their first WRC points in Jordan by finishing eighth overall. “It was important to get to the finish of this particularly difficult event,” said the former Grand Prix champion. “It was only my eighth-ever rally, but also the most difficult one I have seen so far.”
In Turkey, the Finnish crew will face another totally new route and surface. “I’ve no real idea of what to expect from the stages in Turkey,” added Kimi. “We’re going to need to do a lot of work during the recce in order to start off the rally well. Our goal is to be at the finish again, and to gradually reduce the gap to the other WRC drivers.”
Commenti dopo le prove della mattinata:
Kimi Raikkonen: "It was going well, but there was a lot of dust and then i missed a hairpin turn and stalled the engine, which cost me some time [SS10]. These are not easy stages, but it is going better than yesterday."
Kimi Raikkonen’s co-driver Kaj Lindstrom speaking to WRC radio: "Today is going better than yesterday. We made some mistake with the pace notes, but this morning we were more confident and it went better. This surface is new for Kimi and it is just another thing for him to learn. I enjoy seeing the potential in Kimi. We know he is a very talented driver. He is making small steps in improvement and it is nteresting for me to see a driver of his calbre continue to progress."
Commento dopo la SS12: Kimi Raikkonen : "It hasn’t been easy, but it is getting better. You have to good pace notes to go fast. It was tough yesterday, but we’re getting on."
Commento dopo la SS13: RAIKKÖNEN K. / LINDSTROM K. "We had spin maybe 3kms from finish. Otherwise it goes well."
Co-driver praises Räikkönen progress
Kimi Raikkonen’s co-driver Kaj Lindstrom has praised the Finn’s improvements in making pace notes during the Jordan Rally.
Following his switch from Formula 1 to the World Rally Championship, it was widely expected that one of the biggest challenges facing Raikkonen would be making accurate and consistent pace notes on the two reconnaissance runs the crews make ahead of the competition.
Lindstrom said his driver’s notes were as good as the front-running WRC crews during this week’s Jordan Rally. Lindstrom was even more pleased as the Dead Sea-based event is renowned as one of the toughest rallies on which to make notes courtesy of the barren, featureless roads.
Lindstrom said: "So far on this event we have made only five changes to the notes from the first run to the second run. I think some of the drivers at the front have probably made more changes than that. It’s really good, I’m very pleased with the progress he has made."
Raikkonen, whose Red Bull-backed Citroen C4 WRC is eighth going into the final day of the event, admitted there was still room for improvement, saying: "Of course they can still be better, but it’s still early days – we need more experience. One of the keys to go fast is with the notes and here it has been difficult to make notes.
"It’s been the hardest event so far to make notes on, but then again every rally I’ve done so far has been the hardest in my career, we have to learn."
Raikkonen added the loose gravel on the Middle East roads had made the going even tougher than expected. He said: "We have done some days in the car in the gravel, but that has been normal gravel, yesterday was very slippery. We need more experience of these conditions."
Raikkonen’s only problem was a half-spin in the final stage today.
[…] Kimi Räikkönen took advantage of some slightly softer settings in order to make consistent progress. “We’re just trying to find the right pace,” he said. “The first two stages passed without any problems. At the start of the long stage, I was held up by the dust from the competitor in front of me and I went straight on at a junction. The surface is slippery but I’m very pleased with the adjustments made by the team. The car is softer and I feel a bit more comfortable with it. ” […]
Kimi was sixth-fastest and then seventh-fastest on the two runs through Suwayma, gaining a bit more experience today. “It was a bit better than yesterday,” he reported. “Right from the start of the recce, we knew that this would be a particularly tricky rally. We just need to learn and rack up more kilometres on all the different surfaces. We had a spin at the end of the day but the important thing is still to be here in the evening. ”
Citroën Junior Team manager Benoit Nogier concluded: “Today has picked up from where we left off previously. Starting from second on the road this morning, Sébastien was a little quicker than Latvala. We would have preferred him to start from a slightly more favourable road position tomorrow, but circumstances worked against us. Kimi showed himself to be consistent, setting times that were close to those of other more experienced competitors. It’s important to remember that this is only his second gravel event in the car on the WRC. It’s also worthy of note that neither of our C4 WRCs have suffered from the slightest mechanical problem. The cars are both quick and reliable."
Kimi Räikkönen learns all about Jordan Rally after successful second day
Knowledge is power. The more that Kimi Raikkonen finds out about the Jordan Rally, the quicker he seems to get. He has now completed two full days in the car: the longest time he has ever spent in it on gravel in competition. And he set times that were in the top 10 from start to finish today, ending up eighth overall.
"For me it’s just learning, as I’ve said from the very beginning," he pointed out. "I needed to have more time in the car and also the stages today were a bit easier for me than yesterday. You need time to learn about the roads and what the place is like, so this is what we have been doing and the performances are gradually getting better. The more you know, the more confident you feel. Rallying is all about experience, and today has been very good." […]
Commento della giornata:
Kimi Raikkonen speaking to WRC radio: "This was the most difficult day in a rally car for me. You realy need the experience for these conditions. My goal was just to get through the day."
WRC: Räikkönen vuole evitare i guai in Giordania
Dopo le difficoltà delle prime due gare, l’obiettivo è vedere il traguardo
Dopo le difficoltà incontrate nei primi due appuntamenti stagionali, Kimi Raikkonen abbassa l’asticella per il Rally di Giordania: il finlandese infatti punta solo a concluderlo senza incappare in incidenti o in altri inconvenienti, come invece gli è capitato in Svezia ed in Messico. Nei giorni scorsi l’ex pilota della Ferrari è riuscito a completare due giorni di test nel sud della Francia, che gli hanno permesso di verificare le condizioni della sua schiena, rimasta un po’ acciaccata dopo il violento incidente del Rally del Messico, ma anche di continuare ad affinare la sua conoscenza della Citroen C4 WRC.
“Ogni chilometro mi fa imparare qualcosa in più. La cosa di cui ho più bisogno è l’esperienza e devo dire che questi test mi hanno permesso di provare la vettura con tutta la gamma di set-up che la squadra ha messo a punto per me”, ha spiegato Raikkonen. “Ho bisogno di fare tanti chilometri, quindi la cosa migliore che posso fare in una gara così particolare è cercare di completare tutte le speciali. Ho bisogno di migliorare la mia confidenza con la C4 WRC sulla ghiaia e devo trovare un modo di guidare che si adatti al mio stile”.
Räikkönen eager to finish in Jordan
Citroen Junior Team driver Kimi Raikkonen has admitted his priority is a finish on next week’s Jordan Rally.
The Finn has not finished either of the first two rounds of this year’s World Rally Championship without using superally, with a day one crash on the Rally of Mexico earlier this month ending his participation in Leon after seven stages.
Since Mexico, Raikkonen has completed a two-day test in the south of France running without any problems from either his Citroen C4 WRC or the back injury which had ruled him out of a pre-Rally Mexico test.
"I’m learning more with every kilometre," said Raikkonen. "But what I need most is more experience, and these test kilometers are allowing me to go through the wide range of set-up options that the team has come up with.
"I’m still lacking kilometres in rally conditions. On an event that is as specialised as this one, it’s vital to cover all the stages. I still need to get used to the Citroen C4 WRC on gravel and find a way of driving that suits my style.
"We’re going to see what the gap is between myself and the frontrunners at the start of the rally and then just try to reduce it bit by bit."
Räikkönen tests C4 WRC
By Paul Murphy
Former F1 World Champion Kimi Raikkonen has got back into a rally car for the first time since crashing out of the Rally Mexico just over two weeks ago.
Raikkonen completed two days of gravel testing in the south of France earlier this week with his Citroen C4 WRC, in preparation for the Jordan Rally from April 1-3. The Finn concentrated on accumulating more mileage in the car – which he has been desperately short of this year – and evaluating set-ups for the forthcoming gravel rallies.
The 30-year-old managed to get in two full days of running and reported no major problems with his back, which had forced him to cancel the pre-Mexico test. The Finn will now be well prepared as he flies out to Jordan this weekend, which he believes will be a positive event for him.
“It’s completely new to me, but it should be a lot of fun,” he said. “Again, we’re facing a different type of gravel so it’s hard to know exactly what to expect, but the team has some information from the past, so that will definitely help. We’re getting there; it’s just a question of time.”
Raikkonen is contesting 12 out of this year’s 13 World Rally Championship rounds in a programme backed by Red Bull.
2: Another miss for Räikkönen – but was his car at 100 per cent?
"Kimi Raikkonen?s third WRC rally didn?t go well. Hitting a rock seven kilometres into stage one and bending the steering arm wasn’t a good start. Then, on stage two, he dropped more than thirty minutes when his fuel pump stopped working. Things looked up after a couple of clear stages, and he seemed to be getting into it, only for his rally to end in spectacular fashion when he rolled his C4 WRC five times. Soon after the crash Kimi said his late braking was to blame. His car had run wide and hit a bank – sending him into the series of rolls. Maybe he did brake late, but on watching footage from the stage side camera I noticed that the rear spoiler was missing from the rear of the C4 BEFORE the crash. Would Kimi have got around the corner with the help of some rear downforce? Perhaps. But after Sebastien Ogier’s spoiler parted company with his identical C4 WRC in Sweden I imagine Citroen engineers are working on some stronger bolts for Jordan."
No SuperRally return for Räikkönen
Citroen Junior team driver Kimi Raikkonen will not restart Rally Mexico on Saturday after an inspection revealed his car was too badly damaged in a multiple roll on SS7.
After losing more than half an hour with an electrical problem on today’s second stage, Raikkonen went on to set an eighth, a seventh, and a fifth fastest time: his highest-ever overall stage result in his short World Championship career.
But it all went wrong on the final proper stage of the day, SS7, when the Finn rolled into retirement virtually within sight of the finish line. With his Citroen C4 too badly damaged to continue, Kimi’s Rally Mexico is over.
The 2007 Formula 1 World Champion said: “It was very unlucky: the car just slid wide at the end of the stage in a slippery braking area, so we clipped the side of the road and rolled a few times. I had hoped for some good things from this rally, but this was only my seventh event and I am still learning. It’s normal that when you are learning anything you can get caught out by something and this is what happened to me today.
"My biggest disappointment is that we’re not able to continue, as I wanted to have as much time in the car as I could. I had a really good feeling earlier and I wanted to push to see what we could do. I’m sure we will come back stronger at our next event though, and while today was disappointing, I’m really enjoying my rally adventure.”
Kaj Lindstrom, who has been Kimi’s co-driver since the Finn started rallying last year said: “It was a shame that we ended our rally how we did as Kimi was making excellent progress, both with the driving and the pace notes. When we went off we were in a braking area for a left and then a right hand corner with lots of dust and gravel. Kimi had been driving perfectly to the notes and it’s the sort of thing that could happen to anyone. Up until then things had been going really well, and I’m confident that we’ll be on track again at our next event. It’s all part of the game.”
Raikkonen will be back in action at the Rally Jordan from March 31-April 3.
[…] After clouting a rock on Friday’s opening stage, then stopping on SS2 for more than 35 minutes, Citroen Junior Team driver Kimi Raikkonen managed to get his C4 WRC going again and completed the morning loop.
"We bent a steering arm a little on SS1 and that meant we couldn’t go full speed there, but we changed it on the road section to SS3 and it seemed okay. Then suddenly, about 3kms in, the car stopped. We discovered that an electrical connector had come loose on the fuel pump, unfortunately it took a long time for us to find that," he explained.
Räikkönen able to continue rally
Kimi Raikkonen remains in Rally Mexico thanks to his co-driver Kaj Lindstrom’s last-ditch effort to discover the problem that halted their Citroen C4 WRC on the second stage this morning.
For the second event in succession, Raikkonen has suffered problems on the opening day. After sliding off the road on SS6 in Sweden, it was the Finn’s Citroen which let him down on the Ortega test this morning. Just over two miles into the stage, the C4 WRC’s engine died. Raikkonen and Lindstrom radioed the team for assistance and eventually traced the problem to a loose connection to the fuel pumps.
"We had tried everything, but we couldn’t find it," Lindstrom said. "Then I slid my hand down the side of the bag [fuel tank], felt the wire and realised that was wrong. We got it sorted and carried on after that."
The Red Bull-backed pair’s problems were not over, however. Running late, there was no time for them to change the tyres ahead of the morning’s final gravel stage.
"It’s been a tough morning," continued Lindstrom. "We bent something on the steering on the first stage, then we had stage two and we had to do the third stage on the same tyres, so we haven’t really had a clean run. But, taking all that into account, Kimi has driven really well."
Räikkönen alla scoperta della C4 sulla terra
Kimi Raikkonen si appresta a disputare la sua seconda prova della stagione su un terreno che non ha ancora mai sperimentato al volante della Citroen C4 WRC: la terra. Curioso di scoprire la tappa americana, il finlandese l’affronterà con numerose incognite, soprattutto dopo aver saltato la giornata di prove che aveva programmato qualche giorno fa.
Tornando indietro con la mente di alcuni giorni, che bilancio traete dalla vostra prima partecipazione nel Campionato del Mondo Rally con la C4 WRC dello Junior Team?
Kimi Raikkonen: “Il punto positivo è di aver potuto percorrere tutte le prove speciali del Rally di Svezia. Abbiamo appreso molto. Avremmo potuto fare meglio senza qualche piccolo errore ma siamo riusciti a migliorare i nostri tempi nel corso delle prove. Era l’obiettivo iniziale. I secondi passaggi erano molto più semplici. Ho sentito una grossa differenza mentre prendevo man mano sempre più confidenza con le mie note. Con l’esperienza, le cose saranno sempre più facili.”
In Messico scoprirete la guida della Citroen C4 WRC su terra. Pensate che questa superficie sarà un vantaggio rispetto alla neve?
KR: “Sono impaziente d’essere al via del Rally del Messico. Ho la sensazione che la guida su terra debba essere un po’ più facile. Almeno, questo è quello che mi ha detto Marcus Gronholm! Su questa superficie dovremmo incontrare un’aderenza più costante. Ma per il momento, manco ancora d’esperienza. Ho bisogno di fare dei chilometri per abituarmi alla Citroen C4 WRC e alla guida nei rally.”
Come affrontate il Rally del Messico?
KR: “Inizialmente dovevo partecipare ad una sessione di prove sulla terra per scoprire la Citroen C4 WRC su questa superficie nuova per me. Ma dei dolori alla schiena mi hanno impedito di provare. Ho ricevuto delle cure e ho preferito restare a riposo prima di partire per il Messico. Avrei voluto fare dei test ma era importante recuperare per affrontare questa seconda prova della stagione nelle migliori condizioni.”
Back pain prevents Räikkönen test
Kimi Raikkonen has been unable to carry out his planned test prior to next week’s Rally Mexico due to back discomfort – but is still optimistic that he will fare better on the gravel event than he did in the snowy conditions of the season-opening Rally Sweden.
The former Formula 1 world champion has yet to try the Citroen C4 on gravel, but did not want to risk carrying an injury into the rally.
"My plan had initially been to take part in a test session on gravel, in order to get to know the Citroen C4 WRC a bit better on a new surface for me," said Raikkonen.
"But unfortunately I experienced a bit of back pain that stopped me from driving. I’ve had some treatment now but I preferred to rest before leaving for Mexico.
"Of course I would have liked to test the car before going, but it was important to recuperate in order to start the second rally of the season in the best possible physical shape."
Having been delayed by accidents in the two snow rallies he has contested for Citroen Junior – the Arctic Rally and the World Rally Championship opener in Sweden – Raikkonen expects to be more comfortable on the gravel in Mexico.
"My impression is that driving on gravel should be a little bit easier for us. Or at least that’s what Marcus Gronholm told me!" he joked.
"I reckon that we will find a more consistent level of grip on gravel. But for the moment I’m still lacking experience. I just need to get more kilometres in the car in order to get used to the Citroen C4 WRC in particular and rallying in general."
Raikkonen added that he was still satisfied with his achievements in Sweden, having set some promising times between incidents.
"The really positive thing is that we managed to cover all the stages on the Rally Sweden and we learned a lot," he said. "We could have done better overall had it not been for some small mistakes but we managed to improve our stage times as the rally went on. That was our initial objective.
"The second run through the stages was better for us. I also felt a big difference once I became more confident with my pace notes. With more experience, things should get increasingly easier."
Give Räikkönen time, urges Citroën boss
Citroen racing boss Olivier Quesnel has praised the efforts of his latest driver signing, Kimi Raikkonen, on Rally Sweden, but has warned the WRC community not to expect too much too soon.
Raikkonen, the 2007 Formula One world champion, completed his first ever World Rally Championship event at the weekend, reaching the finish in 30th place, 37 minutes behind the leaders, in his Citroen C4 WRC.
He set stage times within the top 10 overall on what was only his sixth-ever rally, including a sixth-fastest time on Saturday. Had he not driven his car into a snow bank on the opening day, he would have finished comfortably within the top 10 and scored points on his debut.
Quesnel believes it was a performance which was in line with expectations. "We cannot ask too much of Kimi at this stage," he said. "Sweden I think is the most difficult rally to start with, and everybody is looking at him and waiting for – I don’t know what – but he couldn’t give more than he has. Kimi did not do a bad job here. He told me he made too many mistakes but it’s obvious he has to make mistakes – he’s learning!
"All of us have to be patient – and that includes the media. Kimi will be okay by the end of the year. It will be a long way to success but I’m sure he’s determined and I know for sure that he wants to succeed. We need to give him the time."
Raikkonen felt he had made good progress on his first WRC rally with the Citroen Juniors. "It was a really encouraging event, which allowed me to learn so much," said the Finn. "From the start to the finish I felt I was improving all the time, which is what I expected from having more time in the car. Sure, we still have a lot to learn because the whole feeling is so different to what I had in Formula 1. But I’m getting a good idea of how to use the pace notes now and I understand the car a bit better as well.
"We wanted to have some more experience of the car and especially get to the finish, so we have achieved everything we wanted this weekend. Now I’m looking forward to driving gravel on the next rally in Mexico; it should be a bit easier for me I think," he added.
For co-driver Kaj Lindstrom, Rally Sweden was a revelation. "When you sit alongside a driver like Kimi, you don’t expect him to be anything other than an amazing talent, but I have to say that he surprised even me this weekend. He was driving at a pace that was quick but extremely controlled; we weren’t going crazy or taking any real risks. Today we built on the progress we had made over the previous days, so I’m feeling really confident for the future now."
L’articolo apparso su Autosprint n.7 di questa settimana:
Debutto amaro per Räikkönen, Hirvonen passa Loeb
Esordio da dimenticare per Kimi Raikkonen nel Mondiale Rally. Nella sessione pomeridiana della prima tappa del Rally di Svezia, prova inaugurale della stagione 2010, l’ex ferrarista è uscito di strada con la sua Citroen ad un paio di chilometri dalla fine della sesta speciale cronometrata restando prigioniero per 25 minuti di un banco di neve. L’ex campione del Mondo di Formula 1, che oggi inizia la sua prima avventura a tempo pieno nel World Rally Championship, prima dell’incidente accusava un ritardo di circa quattro minuti ed ora è a circa mezzora dalle prime posizioni della classifica. Un gap incolmabile. La prima tappa, che si chiuderà con una breve superspeciale sul tracciato di Karlstad, si è chiusa con il finlandese Mikko Hirvonen al comando su Ford davanti al sei volte iridato francese Sebastien Loeb, secondo su Citroen a 8"4 dal leader dopo avere fatto l’andatura nella sessione del mattino. Terza l’altra Citroen dello spagnolo Dani Sordo, che accusa un ritardo di appena 12"2 da Hirvonen. Grande sfortuna, invece, per Marcus Gronholm: anche il due volte campione del mondo, in gara con una Ford, ha pagato dazio nella sesta speciale perdendo circa 12 minuti – fa sapere il sito ufficiale del Mondiale – a causa di un sospetto guasto all’impianto elettrico.
I tempi della prima giornata: http://www.wrc.com/jsp/index.jsp?lnk=406&season=2010&rally_id=S
SS6: Big problems for Gronholm and Räikkönen
Finnish superstars Marcus Gronholm and Kimi Raikkonen both suffered serious setbacks on the sixth stage of Rally Sweden, with Gronholm losing 12 minutes because of a technical problem and Raikkonen getting stuck in a snow bank for 25 minutes.
Gronholm was first to hit trouble, 2.3km from the start line, when his Stobart Team Ford Focus was brought to a halt by a suspected electrical fault. The Finn managed to get going again and complete the stage, but a stage time 12 minutes slower than SS6 winner Jari-Matti Latvala’s dropped him from sixth to 30th place.
Raikkonen’s problems occurred later in the stage, just a couple of kilometres before the finish, when he drove his Citroen Junior Team C4 WRC into a snow bank and got stuck. Like Gronholm he eventually managed to get going again, but the incident meant he completed the stage more than 26 minutes slower than Latvala. The Finn, who was 10th overall on SS5, dropped out of the top 30.
Jari-Matti Latvala’s stage winning performance was his first of the rally, and came after the Finn made set-up adjustments to his Ford Focus RS WRC. "We raised the ride height and the difference was incredible – it was a different car to drive!" he said.
Sebastien Loeb set the second fastest time, and moved up to second overall, but said the drive had not been a smooth one: "The surface is extremely hard and rough. There were lot of impacts under the car," he explained.
Dani Sordo slipped to third after setting the fourth fastest time. The Spaniard was 6.5sec slower than Latvala and arrived at the stop control concerned that his car had seemed down on power for the final two kilometres.
Mikko Hirvonen held his rally leading position, albeit by a slimmer margin of 5.1sec, and seemed relaxed about the state of his tyres. "They don’t seem too bad for the moment," he said.