Sunday, September 12, 2010


"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.

Source: RedBullRallye

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