2007 F1 World champion Kimi Raikkonen put in an impressive performance today on the Neste Oil Rally Finland, his very first outing in the World Rally Championship.
Raikkonen ended the opening leg in 17th place overall and fourth in the Group N class - less than 16 seconds off Janne Tuhino, who is on course for the final place on the Group N podium.
The Finn, who has swapped his Ferrari F1 car this weekend for a Fiat Grande Punto Super 2000, set top-twenty times in eight out of the ten stages, and he gradually upped his pace, finishing with two 15th best efforts in the final two forest tests.
"I am enjoying this rally so far," said Raikkonen. "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.
"We were quick second time through and the car is performing really well. The pace notes are the biggest challenge in this rally because you must have total faith in them.
"[Overall] I am pleased with my performance. I'm not far behind the best drivers in my class and I'm satisfied with that."
Raikkonen's co-driver Kaj Lindstrom, who formerly partnered multiple world rally champion Tommi Makinen, meanwhile added that the 'ice-man' is definitely doing well.
"Kilometre after kilometre Kimi is getting more experience and going faster," Lindstrom added, "His performance is impressive considering that he is racing against professionals who have been doing this for years."
Raikkonen's Rally Finland WRC adventure will now continue on Saturday, with nine more stages on the bill and 166.87 competitive kilometres. SS11, the 21.35 kilometre Leustu 1 test, starts at 07.13 hours.