Saturday, October 2, 2010


After more than 30 years in Corsica, the Rallye de France is being run in Alsace but Kimi Räikkönen's Citroen colleague Sebastien Loeb is not the only famous Alsatian out there

This tiny French province, tucked into a corner of Germany and Kimi's adopted home of Switzerland, has also produced football manager Arsene Wenger as well as other sporting stars such as Michel Platini. Not to mention generations of Alsatian dogs, also known as German Shepherds.

Kimi struggled with grip on the first day of the rally, largely due to the cars in front of him sprinkling so much dirt onto the road that the stages looked like a mud-wrestling arena. This made the amount of grip as predictable as a chimpanzee with a machine gun, but Kimi still kept his nerve to skate to seventh overall.

The same muddy problem existed on day two, which featured even more corner-cutting on the tight and twisty vineyard stages. These were not dissimilar to those on the Rally Germany, where Kimi set his first World Rally Championship fastest stage time in August.

'The Iceman' was making solid progress on the damp roads until he got caught out by a slippery corner halfway through the second stage of the day, taken at about 20kph. The car became beached in a place where there were not many spectators and he lost more than half an hour trying to get back on the road. Kimi continued right up to the penultimate stage today before definitively ending his day's work when the car got stuck again on the outside of a corner. The Red Bull driver will not return under the SupeRally regulations tomorrow, as he has decided not to risk damaging his Citroën C4 further prior to next rally in Spain later this month.

"It was just a stupid thing," said Kimi. "We've not had any problems during the fast corners on the rally, so it's really silly that we suffered in the slow ones! There was just so much mud and so little grip today that it wasn't like a normal asphalt rally. The car did not sustain any damage during either of our two incidents, but obviously when you are running so far down the order you don't have exactly the same motivation and that makes things quite difficult. We still learned a lot though and it has been really useful to have had this experience. I don't think we're going to learn much more tomorrow under these conditions, so the sensible decision is to save the car for the Catalunya Rally, which I'm really looking forward to."

His co-driver Kaj Lindstrom added: "Some you win, some you lose and today was just a bit unlucky for us. In rallying, just the smallest things can put you out and finding the limit is all part of the learning process, particularly as this is only Kimi's third World Championship rally on asphalt with this car. He's put in some really promising performances under difficult circumstances, including a sixth-fastest time today. Now we're going to concentrate on being as well-prepared as possible for the next round in Spain."

The final day of the Rallye de France tomorrow takes competitors through Sebastien Loeb's hometown of Haguenau at what seems set to be a Citroen party. It's just as well that there is plenty of Red Bull in the fridge...

Source: RedBullRallye

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