Benoit Nogier, the manager of the Citroen Junior Team, has said that 'progress on each rally' should be the early goal for Kimi Raikkonen as the Finn prepares to kick-start his WRC challenge this weekend.
The season opener in Sweden will mark Raikkonen's first WRC appearance at the wheel of the Citroen C4, although the former F1 champion has already had one outing in the car during the Arctic Rally – where he battled to the finish despite crashing on the second stage.
Raikkonen will partner highly-rated youngster Sebastien Ogier during the season ahead and Nogier said he was hopeful that both drivers could impress during the season ahead.
“We're hoping that Sebastien starts the 2010 season in the same way that he finished 2009, with the same commitment, hard work and speed,” Nogier said. “In due course he should be in a position to finish on the podium. The final few steps are always the most difficult ones to take though – and this is a fact that both he and ourselves are well aware of. Nevertheless, this is the target we need to bear in mind for him throughout the season.
“As for Kimi, he's obviously just starting. So his goal is simply to make progress on each rally. Kimi is taking his first steps in the sport and there is a steep learning curve for him to climb. But his natural talent behind the wheel clearly needs no introduction!”
Raikkonen himself said he was ready for the challenge of the WRC going into the Swedish event, although he conceded there is plenty to learn during the year ahead.
“I'm just really keen to get to the start of Rally Sweden now,” he said. “With Citroen, we have made some good preparations for this event. All the kilometres I already have behind me will allow me to begin the rally with no particular worries. I know that I still have many things to learn though and plenty of experience to accumulate. My goal is simply to do my best with the Citroen C4 WRC.
“My debut in the World Rally Championship is an enormous challenge but any driver who has competed in motorsport at a certain level always maintains the same way of working and the same desire to push themselves. I feel that I'm ready to take on this challenge now.”