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The world champion hit the front when Citroen Junior driver Sebastien
Ogier fell back with a tyre problem on Saturday afternoon, and then
escaped from the pack today.
Ogier had been the star of the first half of the weekend, emerging in
the lead after early exchanges with Solberg and Hirvonen, then inching
away from the huge battle between the works Fords, works Citroens and
Solberg and holding first place.
Although he was always unlikely to be allowed to beat Loeb to a win,
he was looking comfortable up front until a tyre blew on Saturday
afternoon, relegating him to fourth in the end.
"It was a quite perfect weekend apart from one puncture, but that’s
part of rallying," said Ogier.
His Citroen Junior team-mate Kimi Raikkonen had his best World Rally
Championship outing so far, winning an early battle with Federico
Villagra (Munchi’s Ford) and Matthew Wilson (Stobart Ford) to take
"It has been a good weekend for us – no big mistakes and no problems
with the car," said Raikkonen. "Okay, we got two places because other
guys went off, but that’s part of it and I think we improved."
Pos Driver Car Time/Gap
1. Sebastien Loeb Citroen 3h01m38.7s
2. Petter Solberg Citroen + 54.5s
3. Mikko Hirvonen Ford + 1m43.4s
4. Sebastien Ogier Citroen + 3m46.0s
5. Kimi Raikkonen Citroen + 6m44.3s
6. Federico Villagra Ford + 7m56.7s
7. Matthew Wilson Ford + 8m29.8s
8. Jari-Matti Latvala Ford + 19m44.2s
9. Dennis Kuipers Ford + 23m22.2s
10. Aaron Burkart Suzuki + 27m04.7s
Kimi Raikkonen also continued making progress to
finish fifth, his best result in world rallying. "I feel more and more
confident with the Citroen C4 WRC," he said. "I’m very happy with the
pace that we are able to maintain without taking any risks. We are able
to get closer now to the drivers who are in front of us, which is our
key objective. The hard work we have done with the team is now paying
off. I’m feeling more and more confident. We’ve got a few weeks now
before our next rally but our goal remains unchanged: we will have to
continue to improve."
Thanks to the reliability of its two Citroen C4 WRCs and its crews, the
Citroen Junior Team became the team that scored the most World
Championship manufacturer points in Turkey, with a total of 27. The
Citroen Junior Team reinforced its third position in the standings,
behind two factory teams, after four rounds of the World Rally
"We’ve been through a rally with plenty of twists
and turns," concluded Benoit Nogier, the Citroen Junior Team manager.
"Some of those things went our way, but we also had a stroke of bad luck
with Sebastien’s puncture yesterday. This takes nothing away from his
excellent performance. The cars had no problems at all. Our Citroen C4
WRCs are reliable and our drivers have proved that they are extremely
competitive. Kimi has driven his best rally since the start of the
season. It wasn’t only a rally of attrition; he got past some of his
rivals on pure pace and that is the proof that he is making progress.
The other key beneficiary of Sordo’s retirement
was the 2007 Formula One World Champion Kimi Raikkonen, who put in a
solid performance setting top 10 times on every stage to finish fifth
overall: his best result in a World Rally Car.
“The feeling is coming now,” said Raikkonen. “We weren’t pushing too
hard but we were still able to set times that were not so bad.”
Kimi overcomes (almost) everything in Turkey
Kimi Raikkonen enjoyed a fantastic Rally of
Turkey, finishing fifth overall to add more points to his rally total
and score his best ever result in a rally car. But while Kimi’s
reactions and car control are awesome, there are some things that even a
former Grand Prix champion cannot control – such as erupting volcanoes.
More than 500 people from the different world rally teams have been left
stranded in Turkey – and Kimi and Kaj are two of them. Kimi’s solution
will probably consist of flying to somewhere in Italy and then embarking
on a long car journey back to his home in Switzerland.
Kimi’s Citroen Junior Team will head back to their base in Paris on a
fleet of buses, while other people are looking at solutions involving
boats and trains. Ironically, the rally’s base in Istanbul was the
traditional terminus of the Orient Express, the luxury train service
that used to link France’s capital with Turkey.
The world of rallying may not always be glamorous, but Kimi is
thoroughly enjoying it after a fault-free Rally of Turkey in which he
showed that he is a quick learner. On only his ninth-ever rally, the
Iceman beat several drivers with far more experience and set stage times
that were never out of the top 10 – and often in the top six.
"I’m really pleased with the way it’s gone," said Kimi. "There was
nothing particularly special; we just paid good attention to the pace
notes and made sure that we made no mistakes. The stages were really
tough, particularly on the last day when it was very muddy: it felt like
driving on ice. I’m learning all the time and that’s a really nice
feeling: a bit like my early days of circuit racing. I’m very happy,
although I have no idea exactly how we are getting home tonight. It
really doesn’t matter; I’m sure we’ll find a way…"
Kaj Lindstrom was also reminded of his earlier days in rallying. "It’s
been really nice to be involved in a new project from the very
beginning, and to help a driver develop in rallying," he said. "The fact
that it is with Kimi and Red Bull just makes it all the more special
for me. I have to say that he has been really impressive on this event:
you would never guess that he has so little experience in a rally car. I
know that we can build on this progress now."
The next event for Kimi and Kaj in the Red Bull Citroen will be the
Rally of Portugal from May 28-30, but before then they are hoping to do
some testing in order to increase their experience.
The people who were beginning to write off Kimi
Raikkonen will have to think again too. The Finn made a big step forward
in Turkey, not only steering clear of mistakes but also pulling away
from a few drivers with plenty more experience. Let?s not forget that
this was only his ninth-ever rally of any description, and that before
Turkey he had only ever completed two gravel rallies in the Citroen. So
to set a time in the top 10 on every stage and finish fifth overall was
quite an achievement.