Mexico has a long and rich history in motorsport, with the first Mexican
Grand Prix held in 1962. Mexico’s Formula One fixture lived on in its
most recent format between 1986 and 1992 at the Autodromo Hermanos
Rodriguez: named after the two brothers who made history in Mexican
But this was somewhat before Kimi Raikkonen’s time, as when the last
Mexican Grand Prix was held he was only 12. So Mexico is an entirely new
experience and a new country for the Red Bull driver, who will take
part in just his seventh rally this weekend.
"It’s actually really nice to go somewhere new and see something
different," said Kimi, who has now completed the recce of the 22 stages
that make up the Rally Mexico. "The event’s not exactly what I was
expecting. The stages are quite demanding and twisty, but there are also
some more flowing bits that are a little similar to Rally Finland. The
good news is that there seems to be a bit more consistency in the
surface than there was in Sweden. Even in the recce car, you feel that
the amount of grip doesn’t vary too much. What it will be like when we
come to doing the stages at full speed in the rally car, I don’t really
know: but there are a lot of things that I don’t know about rallying
after aggravating an old back injury picked up in F1, Kimi feels
confident that it will not trouble him further during the rally.
"My back feels OK now," he said. "I’m going to wear a kidney belt – a
type of back brace – during the rally just to keep everything in place
but I am sure I won’t have any further problems. If I was going to
experience some pain I would have had it during the recce, but it was
fine. I’m actually not too worried about having missed the test: the
team has some very good data for this rally anyway."
One of the biggest improvements that Kimi has made since Sweden is in
his pace notes, read out by co-driver Kaj Lindstrom. "The level of
detail in them is really good now," added Kaj. "Our recce was really
good and I could tell that Kimi had a great feeling with the stages. I
hope that all the stages are going to go well for us, but there are a
quite a few that we thought might be really good such as SS3 and SS12.
The roads clean up quite a lot, so I think that our start position will
help us too." After learning a lot in Sweden, the 2007 Formula 1 World Champion is
planning on taking the same approach in Mexico.
"Most of the speed to
come is from me learning more about the car, so that is going to be the
main focus here," he concluded. "We’re going to just build on everything
we’ve learned so far at our own pace, and hopefully a few good stage
times will come out of it too. At the shakedown tomorrow we plan to do
as many runs as we can to get a feel for the roads. So far I’m really
enjoying Mexico, although even on the recce I was quite surprised by how
much power you lose with the altitude. We’ve had a really great welcome
from everyone here and I like Mexican food, so I know we’re going to
have a good time. After all, Mexico is famous for that!"
Tomorrow’s shakedown stage will start at 08:00 (local time), from the
service park in Leon’s Poliforum.
Red Bull’s Rally Preview
Ingrassia and Kimi Raikkonen/Kaj Lindstrom will drive the team’s two
Citroen C4 WRCs.
Having appeared on the World Rally Championship for the first time in
2004, the Léon-based event features the most concentrated rally route on
the calendar this year. In fact, a full 354,60 kilometres out of a
total route lenght of only 884,58 kilometres are run competitively.
Another peculiarity of Rally Mexico is that competitors will be driving
at an altitude of almost 2800 metres at one point on the opening day
(Ortega, SS2 and SS6). Citroen comes into the event fresh from three
consecutive victories in Mexico, between 2006 and 2008. Nonetheless, the
Rally Mexico will be an all-new experience for the Citroen Junior Team,
which goes there for the first time.
Kimi Raikkonen and Kaj Lindstrom will continue their learning curve on
the gravel of Mexico. Following their first rally on the snowy tracks of
Sweden in February, the Finnish crew now faces a new challenge on a
very different surface.
“What I love about rallying is that you have to be competitive on all
sorts of different surfaces,” said Kimi. “After my experience on snow,
now I’m going to find out about driving on gravel. I really don’t know
what to expect, but that is all part of our learning process. I’m very
much looking to driving the Citroen C4 WRC in these challenging
conditions and getting as many kilometres under my belt as I can, in
order to add to my experience”.