Räikkönen prosegue in Citroën
La notizia che molti aspettavano è arrivata proprio nell’ultimo giorno disponibile prima della chiusura delle iscrizioni al Mondiale Rally. Kimi Räikkönen sarà al via della serie già dal primo appuntamento in Svezia dal 10 al 13 febbraio e lo farà al volante della DS3 Wrc. A darne la conferma il portavoce del pilota Riku Kuvaja ai microfoni di Tomi Tuominen della tv finlandese MTV3, “Abbiamo raggiunto l’accordo per dieci gare, ma è possibile che partecipi anche ad altre”.
Nonostante i tira e molla degli ultimi mesi e le voci che lo volevano una volta in Mini, un’altra in Ford e poi addirittura in Nascar, Kimi ha quindi firmato per un altro anno col team Junior della Citroën il cui nome sarà Ice1.
Stesso team e stesso co-equiper per lui che verrà ancora affiancato, nella sua seconda stagione nei traversi, da Kaj Lindström.
The Citroen Total World Rally Team has submitted a brace of entries for its factory DS3 WRCs that will be driven by Sebastien Loeb and Sebastien Ogier during the upcoming season.
The French make will also be represented by the new ICE 1 Racing squad headed by ex-Formula One world champion Kimi Raikkonen, while Norwegian Petter Solberg will drive in a fourth DS3 WRC.
Raikkonen’s entry was submitted shortly before this afternoon’s deadline and ends recent speculation that suggested the Finn would sit out the 2011 season following the death of his father prior to Christmas.
Raikkonen enters under Ice 1 title
Kimi Raikkonen’s 2011 World Rally Championship programme will run under the Ice 1 Racing name, as Citroen moves away from the Citroen Junior banner for its satellite entries.
The 2007 Formula 1 world champion’s entry for Rally Sweden in a new Citroen DS3 was finally confirmed earlier this week, and has been lodged under the new title.
Raikkonen’s fellow privateer DS3 WRC driver Petter Solberg has yet to firm up his team name for the season. Solberg is expected to be entered for the season-opening Rally of Sweden by Citroen under his own Petter Solberg World Rally Team name, but his team manager Ken Rees admitted nothing was confirmed beyond round one.
"For Mexico [round two] we’re not sure if we’ll stay as the Petter Solberg World Rally Team or move into some sort of Citroen team, this has still to be agreed," he said.
Citroen team principal Olivier Quesnel is keen not to retain the Citroen Junior Team name which has been used for the last two years.
"We don’t really need the Junior team name as we don’t have any junior drivers coming through there, so it will be changed," Quesnel said.
Riguardo alla decisione di effettuare sinora solo 10 gare, il manager di Kimi ha dichiarato:
His manager Steve Robertson admitted his driver still has a lot to learn. "With Kimi’s limited experience, it may be better to do additional testing while the others are competing," he told Turun Sanomat.
L’elenco dei partecipanti: http://www.fia.com/en-GB/mediacentre/pressreleases/wrc/2011/Pages/2011_wrc.aspx
Van Merksteijn gets Citroen WRC car
Dutch driver Peter van Merksteijn Jr will drive a factory-supported Citroen DS3 WRC in the 2011 World Rally Championship.
With Citroen having suggested that it will only run four DS3s next year, and Sebastien Loeb and Sebastien Ogier already committed to the two works cars, the van Merksteijn deal raises doubts about Petter Solberg and Kimi Raikkonen’s chances with Citroen.
Van Merksteijn’s father Peter van Merksteijn Sr will also compete in a DS3 on occasional events alongside his son’s 10-round programme. The younger Dutchman will join Loeb and Ogier for some tests as well.
“The last few year I was unable to free myself enough from my full business schedule to drive rallies, and when I drive I want to do that the right way or not at all,” said 28-year-old van Merksteijn, who has contested partial WRC programmes in Fords run by his family team since 2008.
“For 2011 I will be fully dedicated to the rally sport since I have been given the unique chance to drive a factory car.”
Four Citroen DS3 WRCs planned for Sweden
Citroen Racing boss Olivier Quesnel says he is confident that four of the French firm’s DS3 World Rally Cars will contest next year’s World Rally Championship opener in Sweden from February 10-13.
Although Citroen has long-since revealed the identity of its main team, with Sebastien Ogier joining seven-time champion Sebastien Loeb in a pair of DS3 WRCs, the line-up of its second squad has yet to be finalised and has been the subject of considerable speculation in recent weeks.
“We will have two teams next year but I can’t tell you who will be in the second team because we need to secure the budget first,” said Quesnel. “That means for Dani Sordo we would have to find 100 per cent of the budget if he was to continue with Citroen and that is very complicated. It is the same for Kimi Raikkonen.”
Quesnel, who has spoken of his desire to include former world title-winner Petter Solberg in Citroen’s second team in 2011 after the Norwegian competed in a privately-run Citroen C4 WRC this season, says he has received several approaches from interested drivers.
“We have a lot of demand but we would prefer to have the drivers with the budget who are also very fast,” said Quesnel. “We would be very pleased with Kimi and Petter and I think they would have the priority but in the end we will see.
Last year, at this time, we didn’t have any customer so I am not worried. We will just have to wait but I am sure we will have two cars in the second team, even though it is quite complicated.”
Quesnel has confirmed that a maximum of four DS3 WRCs will compete in Sweden as part of a decision by Citroen not to make the car available to private customers in the first season of use.
Meanwhile Ford team boss Malcolm Wilson is still working on plans for up to 10 Fiesta RS WRCs to be ready in time for Rally Sweden. “We’re not there yet but it’s possible,” said Wilson.
Raikkonen e Sordo sembrano vicini alla Mini
Entrambi potrebbero lasciare la Citroen per accasarsi alla Prodrive
Con l’ormai imminente rinuncia di Marcus Gronholm, sembra ormai delinearsi sempre di più il futuro della squadra Mini per la stagione 2011 del Mondiale Rally. Dopo aver messo sotto contratto Kris Meeke, la Prodrive è infatti vicinissima ad altri due piloti di alto livello: Dani Sordo e Kimi Raikkonen.
Lo spagnolo sembra essere arrivato al capolinea del suo rapporto con la Citroen, che per la prossima stagione gli ha preferito Sebastien Ogier per la squadra ufficiale. Inoltre per lui la Casa francese prevedeva solamente un programma parziale con lo Junior Team, per di più non remunerato.
Ecco quindi che per lui potrebbe essere più allettante l’ipotesi Mini, dove si parla comunque di un programma parziale, ma almeno all’interno di una squadra ufficiale e comunque con l’idea di entrare a far parte di quello che sarà un top team nel 2012.
Il discorso che riguarda Raikkonen invece è un pò diverso, anche se pure nel suo caso alla base ci sono problemi per il rinnovo contrattuale con la Citroen. Tuttavia, è più che altro l’ipotesi di poter attirare la sponsorizzazione della Red Bull a fare gola alla Prodrive piuttosto che le doti rallistiche dell’ex campione del mondo di Formula 1.
Kimi infatti è ancora legato al marchio della bibita energetica, che quindi potrebbe coprire parte del budget necessario per allestire la sua Countryman WRC. Il discorso però è più incentrato in ottica 2012, quando scadrà il contratto di sponsorizzazione in essere tra la Red Bull e la Citroen.
L’obiettivo è far diventare l’energy drink il main sponsor della Mini, facendo leva anche sul fatto che le vetture di serie del marcho vengono realizzate proprio in Austria, patria di Dietrich Mateschitz, patron della Red Bull. Ma non bisogna sottovalutare anche il fatto che le vetture promozionali di quest’ultima che spesso si incontrano per la strada sono tutte Mini.
Ormai comunque il tempo stringe, quindi nell’arco di pochi giorni o al massimo settimane ne sapremo di più…
Lindstrom tips Kimi to improve
Co-driver Kaj Lindstrom says Kimi Raikkonen’s revelation that his preferred option for 2011 is to remain in the World Rally Championship is great news for the ex-Formula One title-holder’s bid to establish himself at the forefront of the WRC.
Raikkonen rounded out his maiden world championship campaign on Wales Rally GB last week with an eighth-place finish on the rain-hit event, the fifth time this season that the Finn has scored points in his Citroen Junior Team C4 WRC.
After completing the final stage of the event, Raikkonen told wrc.com that he wants to stay in the WRC. “I have two options [for next year],” said the 31-year-old. “The first option would be to stay in rally and hopefully we can do this.”
Despite his impressive start to his rallying career following his switch from Formula One at the end of 2009, Raikkonen’s future in the sport remains unclear. He has yet to finalise a drive for next year and a return to Grand Prix racing is still a possibility for 2011.
Lindstrom, who navigated Raikkonen on all 11 WRC events his countryman started this season, said a second term in rallying will trigger an improvement in form for his driver.
“It will still be another learning year getting to the top but if he stays he’ll get more experience and can only improve,” said Lindstrom. “Apart from what happened in Spain [when Raikkonen crashed in shakedown and failed to start the event], everything has gone more or less like we expected it would go knowing that he is on a junior level on the rally and there are things to learn.
“For me [his result on Rally GB] is a good finish because it was a difficult rally but he made it well with no mistakes.”
Raikkonen, who scored a total of 25 points to finish 10th in the final drivers’ standings, added: “It’s nice to end my first season in the WRC with a points finish,” he said. “This was one of the most difficult rallies that I competed on, mostly because of the grip changing all the time. The roads were really slippery, but it’s always been a question of trying to work out exactly how slippery they are. Like everything else, this has been a completely new experience for me but I am pleased how it went.”
Commento dopo la SS18: Raikkonen is through the stage. “We took it very easy this morning. We had a gearbox problem in the second stage, but no other problems.”
Commento dopo la SS19: “We are bit lucky with the weather. Quite slippy some places.”
Commento dopo la SS20: “Many mistakes, so we eight. Some options for next year.”
KIMI IN WALES 2010, FINAL REPORT.
So this is where the remarkable WRC journey ends for Kimi Raikkonen in 2010, after 11 rallies contested and five points finishes, making a total of 25 points and 10th in the drivers’ championship at the end of his debut season.
In just one year, the 2007 Formula One World Champion has become the fifth most prolific points-scorer in the illustrious history of the Citroen C4 WRC: a car that has claimed more than 600 fastest stage times throughout its four seasons of competition, one of which was set by Kimi on the Rallye Deutschland in August.
Kimi has made a bit of rally history, becoming the only Formula 1 World Champion to score World Rally Championship points or set a fastest stage time. This year, the Finn also took his very first rally win, at a national event in France, and visited new countries that ranged from Mexico to Bulgaria. It’s been an incredible story that has captured the imagination of the entire motorsport world.
Kimi is known as the Iceman because nothing bothers him: especially not a brand new challenge that would send most people running for cover. He is well known for being fearless in the car but he is just as determined out of it, having taken on the biggest bet of his career thanks to Red Bull. Nobody has ever tried to switch full-time from Formula One to rally before, but there and again not everybody is like the Iceman….
The learning curve has been so steep that it is practically vertical, and Rally Great Britain was one of the most complicated events of the year thanks to rain, wind, mud, fog and even a small cyclone called Carmen: a bad weather front that has swept across northern Europe.
Nonetheless, Kimi did not make a single serious mistake on any of the 20 gravel stages and 359 competitive kilometres, to eventually finish in a points-scoring eighth.
“It’s been a really good rally and it’s nice to end my first season in the World Rally Championship with a points finish,” he said. “This has definitely been the most challenging year of my career and Britain was one of the most difficult rallies that I competed on, mostly because of the grip changing all the time. The roads were really slippery, but it’s always been a question of trying to work out exactly how slippery they are. Like everything else, this has been a completely new experience for me. Looking back on it, this season has been more or less as I expected it to be: we’ve made a few mistakes but we’ve also learned a lot. The stages in Wales are really nice, but as always you need experience to be really quick on them. Generally speaking I’m happy with the progress we’ve made on this rally and I’ve had a lot of fun as well, so I’m very grateful to Red Bull and Citroen Racing for all the opportunities that we’ve enjoyed this year.”
A key part of Raikkonen’s swift adaptation to a completely new discipline has been his co-driver Kaj Lindstrom, a former winner of the Monte Carlo Rally, who has been alongside the Iceman since Kimi first started rallying for fun last year.
Before then, Lindstrom sat alongside four-time World Rally Champion Tommi Makinen and he sees a lot in common between the two Finnish legends.
“They certainly have the same determination and natural speed,” said Lindstrom. “For somebody with so little experience, Kimi has taken everything in his stride and made a lot of progress on both gravel and asphalt, as well as with the pace notes. It’s clear how much he has improved and there’s plenty more still to come. On this event Kimi has been really impressive with no mistakes at all, so it’s been a great way to finish the season.”
Kimi Räikkönen and Kaj Lindström had a slightly more troubled start to the day because of an electronic problem in the gearshift command at the end of Margam Park 1 (SS18). Apart from this small setback, the Finn was able to continue making progress. “The stages are as difficult as ever,” he said. “Even though the conditions are slightly better today, the roads are still extremely slippery.”
By ending the rally in eighth position, Kimi racked up his fifth points finish of the year. “We were expecting this to be a tricky season,” he said. “I made some mistakes but I also learned a lot this year and I had fun driving the Citroën C4 WRC. I would like to carry on: this is my preferred option for 2011.”
Team manager Benoit Nogier concluded: “We had no specific fixed objective at the start of the year. Our goal was to help Sébastien Ogier show his potential so that he could get a factory seat. We fulfilled that target over the course of the year and this remains our biggest satisfaction. The other objective was to allow Kimi Räikkönen to find out all about the World Rally Championship. He was able to learn at his own pace and I think that this first year has given him the desire to continue in the WRC. So once more, it was mission accomplished. Speaking generally, the team always did a good job in what was its third season of the World Rally Championship. Third place in the final rankings is a great reward for us. It shows the ability of our team to make the most of a reliable and competitive car. We’ve got a very good structure in place now, so we will be doing everything we can to continue this adventure in 2011.”
Commento dopo la SS8: Kimi Räikkönen/Kaj Lindström “Very slippy, conditions difficult. This is the first time I have driven on mud and slippy stuff like this, and it is a big challenge.”
Commento dopo la SS10: Kimi Räikkönen/Kaj Lindström “It was OK, but like every stage today it was very slippery.”
Commento dopo la SS11: Kimi Räikkönen/Kaj Lindström “It was OK, I drove the last stage in good rthytm.”
Commento dopo la SS12: Kimi Räikkönen/Kaj Lindström “It’s drier than in the morning, but we have broken left front damper.”
RED BULL ON STAGE – KIMI R. IN WALES, DAY 2
Kimi Raikkonen may have won 18 Grands Prix and a Formula One World Championship, but one thing that the Red Bull driver hasn’t done yet is sell 100 million records worldwide. The route during day two of the Rally Great Britain ran close to Pontypridd, the hometown of legendary Welsh crooner Tom Jones.
It’s true that Kimi knows a lot of famous people. He’s never been a close personal friend of Elvis Presley’s though, and neither has he ever lived in a house formerly owned by Dean Martin. Tom Jones has done all these things, being the 24th most successful artist in the world – ahead of Prince, the Beach Boys, Bob Dylan and Tina Turner.
So Kimi is definitely resigned to not being the biggest superstar in Wales this weekend. Instead, his goal is firmly to get to the finish of one of the most tricky and specialised events of the year. From the very beginning, the Iceman has been in the top 10, and today he did another solid job to make up two more places and end the second day in eighth.
Rally Great Britain is made up of gravel stages that are extremely inconsistent, with the grip alternating between slippery and non-existent. To make matters even more complicated, there were several sections of asphalt on today’s stages, which soon turned into a skating rink.
Sensibly the Red Bull driver decided to take it easy and concentrate on scoring points at the end of the rally tomorrow, having steered clear of risks all day.
“I came into this rally knowing that it was going to be difficult, but I never actually thought that it would be this difficult,” said Kimi. “I suppose today I had a slightly better idea of what to expect so it was less surprising but still just as tricky as yesterday. When we are driving on asphalt with gravel tyres there’s really no grip at all. But in other places, there is more grip than you think. To do well here you need a lot of experience, which is why we are just driving at our own pace and not taking any risks. I’m enjoying myself though and learning more all the time. The stages are really nice but hard to predict – a bit like the weather here!”
Kimi’s co-driver Kaj Lindstrom knows all about the weather in Wales, having finished on the podium of the Rally Great Britain in the past. There won’t be a podium this time, but Kaj was still impressed. “Considering his level of experience, which is zero here, Kimi approached the stages in a very sensible way. We said before the start that we wanted to get to the end of the event in the points and so far we are on track. Of course we can’t take anything for granted because tomorrow’s stages are probably even more difficult than today’s. But so far, we’re on the right road and that is the main thing.”
On slippery Welsh roads, Dani Sordo and Diego Vallejo finished the second day of the Rally Great Britain in fifth overall. Kimi Räikkönen and Kaj Lindström gained two places today and are now eighth.
With the storm system named Carmen having passed overhead, the weather in Wales was milder today – with even some sunshine. But despite these sunny spells, the roads remained extremely slippery throughout the day.
[…] Kimi Räikkönen started 10th this morning and made an increasing amount of progress throughout the opening loop of stages. “The first three stages went very well,” reported the Finn. “We had a good pace I think. The final stage of the loop was a bit more complicated and so I chose to be a little more careful. On the second run, we’ll see if we can increase our pace slightly and continue the progress we’ve made.”
Kimi was competitive throughout the afternoon but he was forced to negotiate Halfway 2 (SS15) with a badly adjusted lamp pod. “I couldn’t see far enough ahead and I wasn’t able to drive the stage as I would have wanted,” he said. “Halfway is a particularly difficult stage. On the other stages we were able to set a few good times, so I’m happy enough with what we have achieved today.”
On the final stage of the day, in Cardiff Bay, Kimi was fourth-fastest overall. “There’s another difficult day ahead of us tomorrow, with a very long stage that we will drive twice,” pointed out the Finn. “We need to carry on like this and try to get close to the frontrunners.”
Team manager Benoît Nogier concluded: […] “As for Kimi Raikkonen, we can only be satisfied with the level of performance that he has shown today. He’s made no mistakes and was sometimes quicker than Matthew Wilson, as well as getting closer and closer to Henning Solberg.”