Kimi crashes in Rally Bulgaria opening (Updates)

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Kimi Raikkonen has crashed out of the 2010 Rally Bulgaria on
the final stage (SS4) of Friday’s opening day.

The Citroen Junior Team driver was lying in fourth place overall
after a very encouraging start to the rally, but went off the road
19.5km into the repeated Belmeken Lake test.

The stage was then yellow flagged, to enable emergency crews to
attend the scene, and the remaining crews went through at slow speed.

Before the incident, Sebastien Loeb wrapped up a perfect opening day
on Rally Bulgaria by setting the fastest time though SS4 and completing a
clean sweep of stage wins.

Kimi Raikkonen and co-driver Kaj Lindstrom are reportedly out of the
car and Okay following the accident.

Citroen Junior Team boss Benoit Nogier confirmed to
that the both crew members were uninjured in the crash.

"I don’t know exactly what happened, but in the middle of the stage
Kimi went off the road and he did a half-roll," said Nogier. "The car is
on its roof and he hit a tree. From what I hear it seems the car could
be okay for tomorrow.

"It’s a shame because Kimi was going very well. He showed very good
speed this morning and particularly in this stage. He took the soft
tyres when everyone else was on the hard and it seems his choice
could’ve been quite good," he added.

Kimi: Down but not out…

Despite a sizeable accident on the final stage of
the Rally Bulgaria today, the Citroen Junior Team is still holding out
hope that Kimi Raikkonen will be able to re-start the second day of the
rally on Saturday.

Raikkonen went off less than eight kilometres from the finish of SS4,
Belmeken Lake, where he had set fifth-fastest time in the morning.

Nonetheless, having secured fourth place following his team mate
Sebastien Ogier’s off in the morning, Raikkonen set off on a more
aggressive strategy in the afternoon. He was the only Citroen driver to
have opted for Pirelli’s soft-compound tyres, banking on some rain
affecting the final two stages.

“I think it’s a good decision,” he said at midday service. “We’ll try
something different and see what happens.”

The 2007 Formula 1 World Champion ran at a comparatively conservative
pace throughout the penultimate stage, setting sixth-quickest time, but
pushed much harder on the final stage, setting the opening two fastest
split times despite conditions remaining warm and dry.

Raikkonen then went off towards the end of the stage, landing on his
car’s roof. Although the accident was big enough to bring out the yellow
flags, Citroen is not giving up hope that the former Grand Prix
champion’s C4 WRC can be fixed tonight so that he can start day two
under the super rally regulations, with a five-minute penalty per stage

This means that Raikkonen would re-start just outside the top 20
tomorrow, but with every possibility of scoring manufacturer points and
acquiring additional experience.

Citroen Junior Team manager Benoit Nogier commented: “We will look at
the car when it is back and see if we can re-start under super rally
tomorrow. That is certainly our hope, but we can only assess this once
we see the car properly. ”

Kimi waits on restart decision

Kimi Raikkonen’s hopes of restarting Rally
Bulgaria hang in the balance following his roll on the fourth stage of
the all-asphalt event.

The ex-Formula One world champion was in fourth overall when he went off
the road less than eight kilometres from the end of the 27.57-kilometre
Belmeken Lake stage.

Although initial reports suggested the Finn would be able to restart on
day two, his Citroen Junior Team have said a full inspection of his
Citroen C4 will be required before he gets the all-clear to return to
action on Saturday morning.

Citroen Junior Team manager Benoit Nogier commented: “We will look at
the car when it is back and see if we can re-start under SupeRally
tomorrow. That is certainly our hope, but we can only assess this once
we see the car properly. ”

Of Raikkonen’s accident, Citroen Racing boss Olivier Quesnel, said: “I
think Kimi maybe was too fast because he had the same split times as Seb
[Loeb] and Dani [Sordo]. But I hope he can be okay to come back
tomorrow and learn some more.”

Raikkonen’s service is due to be brought back to the service park in
Dolna Banya at 2030hrs local time.


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