Friday, October 1, 2010


Red Bull Rally de France day one report

France has already developed a firm place in Finnish culture, as the world-famous Asterix books (which have sold 325 million copies worldwide) are available in no fewer than four regional dialects in Finland - including Helsinki slang, which Kimi Raikkonen would undoubtedly be familiar with.

Asterix tells the story of a brave little French soldier, with a big moustache, resisting the occupation of the mighty Roman army in ancient France. Kimi has quite a similar task on his hands this weekend, as he is up against massive local opposition who know their home territory intimately, cheered on by thousands of fans.

Kimi doesn't have a moustache, but he does have a huge amount of determination as well as backing from Red Bull this year: his first full season of the World Rally Championship. He needed every bit of confidence on the Rallye de France this morning, held in Sebastien Loeb's back garden over the slippery asphalt roads of Alsace.

October means winter, so conditions today were cold and wet: hardly an ideal backdrop for what was only Kimi's third World Championship asphalt rally. Nonetheless, at the end of eight trouble-free stages, Kimi brought his Citroen Junior Team C4 WRC home in seventh place overall, with not a scratch on it. The 'Iceman' is now ready for action again over eight more stages tomorrow, and he is hoping for some warmer weather. Even Finns get cold sometimes.

"With the grip being really variable all the time, it wasn't easy for me to get used to everything and we were probably a bit too careful in the morning," said Kimi. "It's been quite slippery with a lot of mud and gravel on the road; much more than we expected. The first two cars clearly had the advantage and after that it was really difficult. But we've made no mistakes, which was important. We're learning new things all the time: it was the first time that we've driven in slippery conditions with downhill sections because on our last asphalt rally in Germany it was always flat. In the afternoon I wasn't completely confident with the car; we were sliding a lot at the back and it was difficult under braking. But we've set decent times all day, although we would like to be a little quicker, and now we just need to continue like this tomorrow."

Asterix has a sidekick called Obelix but instead Kimi Raikkonen can rely on his co-driver Kaj Lindstrom: who is as just as dependable as the Gaulish warrior, but smaller, lighter and with a much better sense of direction. Kaj has been pleased with Kimi's progress on the difficult conditions of the opening day in France and the Finn is looking forward to more action tomorrow.

"This is certainly the most tricky day on asphalt that we have contested so far on the World Rally Championship, so to come out of it setting top-eight stage times and in seventh overall is a great result, given Kimi's huge lack of experience compared to the other drivers here," said Kaj. "We've got a few ideas about tomorrow, so the plan is to carry on like this and keep building up experience. I'm very pleased that we have had no mistakes at all today, and our goal is to get a solid finish."

Source: RedBullRallye

No comments: