Monday, October 4, 2010

Kimi's courage has made an impression on Vatanen

Kimi Räikkönen has drove 10 WRC-rallies with Citroen's WRC-car. He has been six times outside the points and in four rallies he has been in the top 10. When counting his offs the fingers of one hand isn't enough.

Ari Vatanen became the first Finnish rally world champion in 1981. The young Vatanen is remembered as a superfast promising talent who also had one off after another.

– It was because of too much enthusiasm and that stayed with me until the end of my career - and is still there from whatever I get enthusiastic over, Vatanen admits.

Vatanen reflects on Räikkönen's driving in rallies through his own personal insight.

– Not one single bystander can say if Kimi did right or wrong when switching over to rally from F1. Kimi lives his own life and is responsible for it only to himself. I respect very much Kimi's courage to leave F1 and take the huge risk that switching over to rally requires.

– Just for the sake of comparison; the rally drivers would take a similar risk if they would go to F1 and drive in Monaco GP qualification. They would become complete laughing stocks. Kimi has showed that he can take the rally car fast from the beginning to the end.

– There's such a primadonna-tendency in F1 where switching over to a completely new sport is against it. For outsiders it opens up only through results but only Kimi can feel how he enjoys driving a rally car and how he feels away from the hectic F1-circles.

Vatanen is pointing the finger to those who condemn Räikkönen's will to try something new.

– It's just a sign of a paternalistic society when bystanders get to say what one can and can't do.

Vatanen thinks Räikkönen did completely right when beginning his rally career in top cars.

When Kimi has so much experience of driving it would have been a waste of his time to go and drive some old Escorts on the roofs.

Vatanen admits immediately that he doesn't see Räikkönen having a chance to develop so much that he would become a champion in rally.

– We are talking about two completely different sports. It's the same as if a star player from rugby would be expected to become a goal shooter in soccer. It's not realistic to expect that Kimi would become a champion in WRC. The real top achievement would be if Kimi would at some point reach a podium in WRC.

Sebastien Loeb has conquered the rally-world better than anyone else before. Vatanen who lives in France is joking that as a matter of fact we are talking about a family called Löppönen from Saarijärvi Finland that moved to France and their new surname was changed from Löppönen to Loeb.

– Sebastien is a magnificent driver but the truth is that his success is also due to the lack of competition. In practice Loeb's only competitor was Marcus Grönholm and when he retired Loeb has done what he has always wanted to do.

– I don't believe that Loeb's success would have been as awesome during another rally-era when they had remarkably more factory teams, winning cars and top drivers than they have these days.

Loeb is the most popular sportsman in France but according to Vatanen the status of rally isn't as big as it is in Finland.

Turun Sanomat


Courtesy: Nicole

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