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Q: Kimi, firstly welcome to the WRC. We have seen you compete on events this year but what has made you decide to compete on a round of the World Rally Championship and what have you thought of the experience so far?
KR: The biggest decision was that I have the time now and I don’t have anything else to do this weekend.
Q: Rallying is such a huge sport in Finland and this event is a classic on the calendar. Is it your first time to the event or have you been here spectating before?
KR: I have been a few times but this has been the first time I have seen the roads. They look very nice and we will see how it goes tomorrow but this is definitely an excellent rally and good experience for me. It looks like the weather will also be good so everything is ready for a good event.
Q: After contesting events on snow and asphalt this will be your first rally on gravel. How difficult has it been to adapt to the surface?
KR: I think this is more normal for me on gravel. The roads are a bit faster than on snow and the grip is good and the roads are a bit wider so we will see how we can do. We will try to finish the rally – I don’t know if we can win it or not but we will have fun.
Q: The car is prepared by Tommi Mäkinen Racing – has Tommi or your co-driver Kaj Lindstrom been giving you any advice ahead of this event?
KR: The notes here are really important for you to go fast and it is something completely different to what I am used to. All the top guys here drive at similar speed and the notes make a big difference. It just takes time to learn and sometimes you get it wrong and it is not easy to know exactly where to go on the jumps. Hopefully we have the right notes and we shall have some fun, but I am responsible for the right notes.
Q: Could we see you compete again at World level – is rallying just fun for you or could this be a future career?
KR: :Yes definitely. I am still in F1 and still have one more year contract but everything is open and it is nice to be a part of it here. I am a bit too young to do nothing so I will see. It all depends on which way F1 is going. Nobody is exactly sure how it will be. I am in no hurry.
Q: Kimi, have you set any target results for this rally?
KR: I just hope to get to the finish and match the same speeds as the other guys in my group.
Q: What do you think about Michael Schumacher joining you as the second driver at Ferrari?
KR: I actually heard it yesterday. For me it makes no difference who drives the second car. I don’t think it is 100 per cent sure that he will drive as he is still checking things out. But it will be nice to have him as a team-mate. It nearly happened before.
Q: Will you be doing more rallies next year in the WRC?
KR: I don’t know. If I have the time then maybe. I like learning different things so if I have no testing, and the time, then I will do more rallies – I enjoy it and there is no harm in it.
Q: Has Luca di Montezemolo shown any interest in your rallying project?
KR: I asked him first if it was okay, because FIAT has a Super 2000 car, so it was an easy choice. He knew I was interested so he let me do something in my spare time.
Q: Would it be possible for a World Rally driver to win an F1 race?
KR: You will have to ask Sébastien! For sure he has the speed, and he has shown he can drive fast in Le Mans.
Encouraging Start For Raikkonen
Ferrari Formula 1 star Kimi Raikkonen rounded
off Friday morning’s loop of stages by setting his most competitive
stage time of the event so far.
Raikkonen, who was F1 world champion in 2007, is making his WRC and
gravel rally debut in Finland this weekend, driving his own Abarth
Grande Punto S2000 in front of his home crowd.
With five stages complete, Kimi brought his car back to the Service
Park in 19th place overall. His time through the most recent stage,
SS5, was just 1.2sec slower than that of Finnish rising star Anton Alen
in an identical car.
Raikkonen’s co-driver Kaj Lindstrom is acting as Raikkonen’s spokesman
during the event and said Kimi’s driving was getting better and better.
"This one was perfect," Kaj said after SS5. "He started the day a
little bit rusty [on SS2] but he was there on SS3 and was going even
better on Mokkipera until we missed a junction. This last one was
perfect. I think we’re going to be fine!"
Raikkonen Continues to Impress
Formula 1 star Kimi Raikkonen continued his
successful World Rally Championship debut in Finland this afternoon,
ending SS9, the last forest stage of the day, in 17th place overall and
fourth in his class.
After showing an encouraging pace this morning, as he familiarised
himself with the day’s loop of four stages, Rantanen felt confident
enough to increase his speed on the afternoon repeat.
On the last forest stage of the day, the 13km Palsankyla (SS9), the
Finn was faster than rising star Anton Alen – who is also driving a
Tommi Makinen Racing-run Abarth Grand Punto S2000. Raikkonen’s time on
SS9 was only 3.9sec slower than that of Skoda S2000 driver Juho
Hanninen, who won the P-WRC class of Rally Finland last year.
Before tackling the day closing Super Special, Raikkonen said he was
enjoying his rally so far. "We are quick second time through and the
car is performing really well. The notes are the biggest challenge in
this rally because you must have total faith in them. I am pleased with
my performance,” he said.
Raikkonen Tipped For Class Podium
Four-time world champion Tommi Makinen has tipped Kimi Raikkonen for a Rally Finland podium in the Group N category this week.
Raikkonen’s Abarth Grande Punto is fifth in the showroom class, but the
Ferrari Formula 1 star has already set two top-three stage times today
– despite only testing the car for 250km on gravel before starting his
first World Rally Championship round.
The 2007 F1 world champion admitted he was too cautious in some
sections this morning, but Makinen said he was clearly enjoying the
Asked if he was surprised at Raikkonen’s early pace, Makinen said:
"No, I’m not. You might be, but I have sat with him and watched him
drive. He is very, very natural in the way he drives. He’s not
aggressive or anything like that, we know where he is. I don’t think
there are many drivers who could get in the car and do what he is
Makinen added that he was certain Raikkonen would have been a world
champion in rallying if he had taken to that side of the sport instead
"For sure he would have been champion if he came here straight
away," said Makinen. "There’s no question about that from the driving
side, the only thing which might be slowing him down a little bit could
be the communication with the co-driver. This is something completely
new to him. This is quite a challenge compared with F1, to come and do
something new like this is very good for him."
While he did tip Raikkonen for a podium in the car run by his own
preparation firm, Makinen added that the emphasis should be on
"He will get so much experience if he gets to the finish with no
problems," he said. "Areas like the communication with the co-driver
will really improve if he drives for all three days – that’s what we’re
Raikkonen Ready to Raise His Pace
Driving his own Abarth Grande Punto, the Finn is
now fourth in Group N, having passed the highly rated Patrik Flodin on
the afternoon’s loop around the event’s base in Jyvaskyla.
"For sure, I could go faster than this, but at the moment, it
doesn’t make any sense," said Raikkonen. "I need to find a level and
"At the end of the day, I was trying to go a bit faster and the
confidence was coming. I made two mistakes this morning: I had two
overshoots, one in the second stage and one in stage four. This
afternoon, there were no errors."
Raikkonen’s co-driver Kaj Lindstrom added: "Everything is going
really well. In some of the really high-speed places, the notes are a
little more tricky, but we’re not making changes to the notes; you
don’t need to when you make a good set straight away.
"Okay, we did change the notes in the two places where we lost time
with the overshoots this morning, but apart from that nothing."
Raikkonen has not put a mark on the Punto – which has also run
perfectly – through the opening leg of his first ever World Rally
The Ferrari driver is not the F1 star in town, however, as Red
Bull’s Sebastian Vettel is an interested spectator and McLaren’s Heikki
Kovalainen is coming to watch his countryman in action.
Engine Issue Could Stop Raikkonen
Kimi Raikkonen’s participation in the Rally
Finland could soon come to an end as his Abarth Grande Punto has
developed an ominous engine problem.
Although the Tommi Makinen Racing team is sending Raikkonen back
out onto today’s final loop of stages, AUTOSPORT has learned that one
of the engine’s cylinders has a compression problem, and that the team
is not optimistic about the car’s chances of lasting the rest of the
In addition to the engine issue, Raikkonen also broke a shock
absorber and damaged the car’s sump guard in separate incidents on the
second loop today. His co-driver Kaj Lindstrom is also having to push
the car at times to start it due to starter motor problems.
"It’s a shame, it would be nice to do the rally with the car
working all the time," said Raikkonen. "Every time we come to service
something is broken and we can’t fix it perfectly.
"The engine has been a big problem all day. "All the time something is breaking, we’ve had lots of problems on this loop."
Despite the glitches, Raikkonen – who is understood to be enjoying
his World Rally Championship weekend a great deal – remains third among
the Group N/Super 2000 cars, behind only Intercontinental Rally
Challenge frontrunners Juho Hanninen and Anton Alen.
Finally, Kimi Racing At Home
There is still some way to go for a Formula 1 GP
in Finland but Kimi Raikkonen will have his debut today in a world
championship home race with a racing car. The Scuderia Ferrari Marlboro
will start at the Finland Rally behind the wheel of an Abarth Grande
Punto S200. It is the fourth time that Kimi participates in a rally,
after two races on ice and snow last wimter, the Artic and Vaakuna, and
the Rally della Marca Trevigiana, on tarmac in Italiz. His navigator is
Kaj Lindstrom, who was already a partner of world champion Tommy
"I have been to rallys before but this is the first time I have seen
the roads: they seem really nice. We will see what will happen but it
will be a great experiemce for me" Kimi said during a FIA press
conference – "It is much easier for me to adapt to ground than to ice
and snow. The grip is alright and the roads are a bit wider. The notes
are something completelz new to me. I need some time to learn and
understand and where to go when we jump. Mz objective is finishing the
rally and staying within the times of my group: well I think I that
winning is not an option but I will have fun."
Kimi was asked if it is just passion or if there might be something
more to come: "Why not? I am in Formula 1 and I have a contract for
another year with Ferrari but everything is possible in the future. And
then I am still a bit too young to retire: a lot will depend on how the
situation in Formula 1 will evolve, but I am in no rush."
There were also questions about the situation in Formula 1, especially
the possibility that Michael Schumacher could drive next to Kimi at the
upcoming European GP at Valencia. "Stefano Domenicali informed me about
it yesterday" Kimi said – "Honestly I have to say I feel very honoured
if Michael will really drive the second car and he would be my
teammate. In the end anything can happen.
Raikkonen Makes Good Impression at Home
After yesterday’s prologue Kimi Raikkonen had a
great first day at the Rally of Finland, ending it on a 17th overall
place with a Abarth Grande Punto S2000. "I had some problems in the
first two special tests, but then I found my rhythm and it went well
for the rest of the day," the Scuderia Ferrari Marlboro driver said.
"I’m not far behind the best drivers in my class and I’m satisfied."
"Kilometre after kilometre Kimi is making more experience and going
faster," Kaj Lindström his navigator said, "his performance is
impressive considering that he is racing against professionals with
years of experience."
Q. What happened to Raikkonen?
Tapio Laukkanen: It was a tightening corner with a big rock on the
outside. He went a little bit wide, hit the stone. That put the nose of
the car into the ditch and he rolled two times or something. There were
a few rocks around and they lost one wheel – the car was damaged and
they couldn’t drive it back.
Q. No chance of getting it back to superally tomorrow?
TL: No way. There is too much damage. There’s no point to try and fix it for half a day tomorrow.
Q. And there were some engine problems today?
TL: The engine worked, but not like it should. There was a problem
all through the day. We were hoping to find the solution for that
tonight, but obviously it’s too late now.
Q. What he’s done has been pretty impressive, though?
TL: Oh yes. I am delighted to see how fast he can drive. But we saw
this in the test, he’s a big driver. He can drive nice with smooth
lines – that’s how he is. He’s a big talent in the F1 and the same with
motorbikes and the snow scooters, he’s the same with all of those
Q. Did you sit with him in the test?
TL: I sat with him for a few laps. I was trying to do some things
with the notes. Kaj [Lindstrom] was my co-driver also, so I was trying
to help him.
Q. Has he had a good time?
TL: He has definitely enjoyed it. He was having a good time. But,
of course, we were having come technical problems and it’s not very
good for him to see that kind of thing. But that’s motorsport.
Q. But this is really the only car he can drive in the rally?
TL: Yes. That’s part of his job.
Q. Will he be out again this year?
TL: I’m quite sure when he’s not busy he wants to do some more.
Raikkonen: It happens – it’s part of rallying
Living up to his ‘Iceman’ nickname, Kimi
Raikkonen shrugged off his last stage roll in Finland today as ‘part of
the sport’ and said his World Rally Championship debut had been good
Despite engine problems today, Raikkonen was placed 15th overall when
he crashed his Abarth Grande Punto S2000 on a left-hand corner, 3km
from the start of the day’s final stage, the 29.29km Vaarinmaja (SS19).
The car rolled into a ditch and although crowds of spectators managed
to drag it back onto the road it was too badly damaged to carry on.
Minutes after the accident, Raikkonen said the crash was the result of
putting his car in the wrong position on the approach to the corner. "I
knew that place but I came in with too wide a line," he said, "I
thought we were going to go wide but then, unfortunately, there were a
lot of rocks and when I hit them the car went over."
"I thought we wouldn’t finish the rally because we had too many
problems with the engine! But it was good fun and nobody got hurt. It
happens – it’s part of rallying," he added.
Back in the Service Park, Raikkonen’s co-driver Kaj Lindstrom told
wrc.com he was proud of what Kimi had achieved. "He proved he has the
speed, which before the rally nobody knew for sure," he said. "Getting
to the finish of the rally was the main thing here, but with the engine
in such a bad shape we knew, realistically, that wasn’t going to
"Kimi wasn’t overdriving to compensate for the engine, it was all
down to being on the wrong line on a very tricky corner – the same one
which caught out Mads Ostberg."
Lindstrom confirmed that the extent of the damage ruled out a
SuperRally return on Sunday. He also said more rallies with Kimi were a
possibility but wouldn’t be drawn on when and where.
Q: A lot of attention has been paid to Kimi Räikkönen this weekend. What did you think of his performance?
I think he did really well. He was about 1 second per kilometre
from Hänninen and the other best drivers and in Finland that is a very
Q: What did Mikko and Jari-Matti think about Kimi Räikkönen’s performance?
I have the same thoughts as Sébastien; I think he did really well,
considering he has only ever done two rallies with pace notes before.
He was setting really good times.
I agree, he did really well considering his lack of experience.
Okay, he went off the road, but even I had a little moment in the same
place. It is not an easy corner, and these things can happen!
Finnish articles (translations courtesy of Wolfie)
The Common Folk’s Genre Conciliated Kimi
From Iltalehti.fi , by Jussi Ojala
I can’t claim that I know Kimi personally but after watching from
close the man’s driving in Nurnburgring-GP first and after that in the
WRC-rally and after talking to several colleagues and persons near Kimi
I’ve got some kind of impression of him.
In the F1-paddock Kimi is the reserved Iceman. The media mill and
everything that comes with it are compared to rally on a completely
different level. Kimi’s expression doesn’t much vibrate and he only
takes care of the mandatory media obligations. In the F1-circles Kimi
has built a hard shell around him that seems unbreakable. When there
are reporters around Kimi is locked.
In the WRC-rally the situation was completely different. When the
VIP-lounge’s shrimp sandwiches changed into race sausages and the suit
men into easygoing rally people. Rally is the genre of the common folks
– and it suits Kimi. Despite several car-problems and rough crash Kimi
was like at his home on the gravels of Jyväskylä.
"Maybe this rally is a bit more relaxed," Kimi said.
Kimi was during the whole weekend all the time happy, relaxed and
when comparing him with the F1-drivers – extremely open. There was a
huge bunch wondering about this new expression in the press center.
On the other hand maybe there wasn’t anything extraordinary in
Kimi’s behaviour. Kimi simply enjoyed the rally so much that he dared
to be himself.
To The Bar With A Chopper
First a little rally, then partying in Jyväskylä’s night. That’s Kimi’s schedule for the free weekend.
Kimi went after a heavy rally day to have some fun to the nightclub
Giggling Marlin’s VIP-lounge and was there until the end. As you can
guess the other men who came to the night club had to settle for being
a less interesting person when the formula star arrived to his
favourite (?) bar to relax.
Tommi Mäkinen and Petter Solberg also followed him there.
Kimi’s way of going to the night club wasn’t the most usual. He came in style with a chopper.
The Iceman is known to be a hard party man and usually when the
Iceman is on vacation the events of the night end up on the tabloids.
This time there wasn’t any gorilla suits or falling from high places, the young man behaved in a civilised and calm way.
To many people’s surprise Kimi was in a great mood and even more
laid-back than before. Mäkinen and Solberg got angry at some person
taking pictures of their entourage but Kimi went to shake hands with
the photographer and even chatted with him for some time.
"Kimi was in no way especially disappointed in the retirement. Rally is a hobby for Kimi," Riku Kuvaja explained to Iltalehti.
Räikkönen who has created an image of being a nobody, a normal guy,
is still the 52th most influencial public person according to Forbes.
Kimi Celebrated With Champions
When Kimi’s driving job ended earlier he had more time to check out Jyväskylä’s rally-atmosphere also in the restaurant.
Kimi spent Saturday night in a night club with Tommi Mäkinen and Petter Solberg.
"Kimi is a really nice guy and we get along very well," Solberg commented.
The Norwegian thinks it’s possible that Räikkönen will come to the WRC-serie later.
"You never know but he has all the ingredients for becoming a good rally driver.
"Next year I want to drive a car that can win. I have many plans but nothing is certain yet."
Kaj Lindström’s Blog
"Well it went into the bushes. It was a bad spot, a corner to the left
and Kimi’s speed was a bit too fast when coming there. The crash was
rough but we both made it without any injuries. Of course both of us
had shaking hands right after the crash but Kimi took it really calmly.
Like a professional.
"Of course Kimi was disappointed after the crash because the race was
over. You could clearly tell from him that he would have liked to
finish the race. But Kimi understood immediately that this belongs to
motorsporting. He has retired in F1 too so as a professional he can
take these things the right way.
"Despite everything the weekend gave us both a good mood. Kimi drove
fantastic times although he had engine problems and was almost in the
same speed as the top of the N-group. This was from Kimi all and all an
extremely tough performance. He showed everyone that he has talents and
speed in this sport too."