Ruts, spins – and banks
The Swedish Rally was my first world championship rally with WRC car.
Well, we finished the rally in one piece. It was the target and it was
the most positive thing to achieve from the weekend.
Obviously, I made a couple of silly mistakes that I could have lived
without. We paid heavily for those and it badly hurt our result.
The Swedish Rally is a very demanding race. The roads are covered with
snowy ice. If you come out of the ruts, there is soft snow and you spin
easily. Then you get snow all over the car, cannot see anything – and so
you hit the snow bank.
That’s what happened to us. We went there with walking speed, but stuck
on the soft snow bank. Then I had to take the spade and start digging
the car out of the snow.
Well, that’s one thing you have to experience in a rally. It’s normal
and I know that those who now are the leaders, have had their share of
shovelling, too. I guess, not even Sibelius started by composing the
All in all the Swedish Rally offered us a very interesting weekend.
Okay, perhaps we had some expectations and, for sure, the pressure was
there, while we started the rally. It was difficult, but it feels good that
it’s done now.
Every single mile I’ll get under my belt with this car is very important
for me now. The more I’ll find the good feeling with the car, the
better it goes. Even now from time to time I started to feel better and I
got along with the car better and better.
While we do the stages for the second time, obviously, it helps and
makes it a little bit easier.
After our “hiccups” in the beginning, we decided not to seek some better
set-ups. We went to Sebastien Loeb’s set-up and started to learn to
drive the car with it. I just focused on baseline driving and keeping
the car on the road.
After getting used to how the car handled, it was easier – although the
circumstances were changing all the time. At least, next time I know the
car better and then we can ask more from the car, too.
It felt good to have some good times. For sure, I experienced once more
how important it is to get the pace notes exactly right. When the note
is ok, it’s so much easier to go fast. There were some places, my notes
were wrong – and there we suffered the most.
I said already before going to Sweden, this rally on snow will be a very
difficult race to start the season. Obviously, I have not done a single
metre with this car on gravel or on asphalt, but I bet it’s not going
to be more difficult, at the very least.
Now we focus on the next rally. It’s Mexico and it’s the first rally on
gravel. We’ll have one day of testing with the car in France. Then it’s
Viva la Mexico and it will thrilling to see my co-driver Kaj Lindstrom
with a sombrero on.
Raikkonen’s decision to turn his back on the F1 circuit in favour of a
WRC season with Citroen has been one of the biggest stories of the year
so far in his home country of Finland.
Record numbers of users have visited the sports website of Finland’s WRC
broadcasters, MTV3, with 468,500 unique visitors in the last week of
January. Of these, 250,000 were in the rally section which was covering
Raikkonen’s progress on the Arctic Lapland Rally.
Only the Finnish round of the series in 2009 attracted a greater number
of visitors to MTV3’s rally site (279,000).
WRC fever continued into the Swedish Rally when MTV3’s rally site
attracted its third best audience ever, 248,191, as Finnish online rally
fans celebrated Mikko Hirvonen’s maiden WRC victory in 2010.
The World Rally Championship’s own website, wrc.com, also had a record
breaking weekend, with almost eight million page views during the rally,
and a single day record of three million on Friday.
Meanwhile membership of the WRC’s official Facebook community continues
to grow at its fastest rate ever. The group now has more than 100,000
members – with 10,000 signing up in the last fortnight alone.