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.