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Raikkonen eyes finish on WRC debut

Kimi Raikkonen will make his debut in the World Rally Championship this week, when he takes in the Neste Oil Rally Finland, one of the fastest and oldest events on the WRC schedule.

The Finn, who took the runners-up spot in Hungary on Sunday, finishing 11.5 seconds behind Lewis Hamilton's McLaren-Mercedes, will swap his Ferrari F1 car for a Fiat Grande Punto Super 2000 - the same spec car as will be driven by Anton Alen.

Raikkonen will be co-driven by the experienced Kaj Lindstrom, who formerly partnered multiple world champion Tommi Makinen and while he may be a WRC virgin, he will at least be familiar with his mount having driven the Grande Punto on his previous rally outings at national level.

Furthermore while his most recent rally outing, an asphalt debut in Italy was cut short by a mechanical problem, the 29-year old does have two other events under his belt.

"I think it will be a completely different thing [to anything I have done before]. I have done a few rallies but it is like club races compared to the Rally Finland," said Raikkonen prior to last weekend's F1 race at the Hungaroring.

"I will just go there and have fun and hopefully we are going to make it to the end. That would be nice."

His comments echo those made by the 'ice man' back at the start of July: "I want to thank Ferrari for giving me the possibility to participate in the 1000 Lakes Rally with the Fiat Grande Punto Abarth," he added back then.

"It will be my debut in a championship rally. As we don't have any tests now during the F1 season we've got plenty of spare time and it's nice to participate in a race to keep busy.

"I have already tested over the last few days, but my approach remains the same: it has nothing to do with F1, it is pure pleasure."

Red Bull Racing's Mark Webber meanwhile is full of admiration and has wished his rival the best of luck for the 345 kilometre event, which begins on Thursday night with the short super special stage at the Killeri trotting track.

"I think it's a real credit to Kimi that he's having a crack at it," stated Webber. "It's a really brave thing to do.

"I wish Kimi all the best for tackling one of the hardest rallies in the world. We should take our hats off to him, so good luck with it."



Related Pictures

Click on relevant pic to enlarge
Kimi Raikkonen (FIN) Ferrari F60, Spanish F1 Grand Prix, Catalunya, 8th-10th, May, 2009
Kimi Raikkonen (FIN) Ferrari F60, British F1, Silverstone, 19th-21st, June, 2009
Hyundai i20 Coupe WRC, Monza, [Credit: Hyundai Motorsport]
Podium 1st Australian - Molly Taylor (AUS) Bill Hayes (AUS) Subaru Impreza WRX Sti
Podium - Volkswagen
Podium - Andreas Mikkelsen (NOR) Anders Jaeger Synnevag (NOR) Volkswagen Polo R WRC
Lorenzo Bertelli (ITA) Simone Scattolin (ITA) Ford RS WRC
Podium, 1st Andreas Mikkelsen (NOR) Anders Jaeger Synnevag (NOR) Volkswagen Polo R WRC, 2nd Sebastien Ogier (FRA) Julien Ingrassia (FRA) Volkswagen Polo R WRC, 3rd Thierry Neuville (BEL) Nicolas Gilsoul (BEL) Hyundai i20 WRC
Podium, 1st Andreas Mikkelsen (NOR) Anders Jaeger Synnevag (NOR) Volkswagen Polo R WRC, 2nd Sebastien Ogier (FRA) Julien Ingrassia (FRA) Volkswagen Polo R WRC, 3rd Thierry Neuville (BEL) Nicolas Gilsoul (BEL) Hyundai i20 WRC
Podium - Andreas Mikkelsen (NOR) Anders Jaeger Synnevag (NOR) Volkswagen Polo R WRC
Podium - Volkswagen
Podium - Volkswagen
Podium 1st Andreas Mikkelsen (NOR) Anders Jaeger Synnevag (NOR) Volkswagen Polo R WRC, 2nd Sebastien Ogier (FRA) Julien Ingrassia (FRA) Volkswagen Polo R WRC, 3rd Thierry Neuville (BEL) Nicolas Gilsoul (BEL) Hyundai i20 WRC
Podium - Andreas Mikkelsen (NOR) Anders Jaeger Synnevag (NOR) Volkswagen Polo R WRC
Podium - Andreas Mikkelsen (NOR) Anders Jaeger Synnevag (NOR) Volkswagen Polo R WRC
Mads Ostberg (NOR) Ola Floene (NOR) Ford Fiesta RS WRC
Sebastien Ogier (FRA) Volkswagen Polo R WRC
Sebastien Ogier (FRA) Julien Ingrassia (FRA) Volkswagen Polo R WRC

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Dafydd Larcombe - Unregistered

July 28, 2009 3:04 PM

I wish him all the very best. I think Kimi can be one of the most talented Alternative motorsports celebrity drivers to compete in the WRC, possibly eclipsing Rossi. Im excited to hear Kaj saying that Kimi wants to know if he can compete at the proper level, he certainly has the resources, Tommy Makkinene Racing, a good car and one of the sports best co drivers. Finland is the one event I didnt do that I always wanted so much to do, who knows, maybe I will do it in the not to distant future. The buzz is fantastic in Finland, its like no other Rally, its going to be especially good this year I think, im off to the Airport to get on my plane to Helsinki, I cant wait to get there!!



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