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Raikkonen scores again in Portugal
31 May 2010
Former Ferrari and McLaren F1 man Kimi Raikkonen came through to score points for the third event in succession on Sunday in Portugal, despite a pretty scary moment in the final loop.
Raikkonen, who of course only started rallying last year and who missed the last round of the World Rally Championship in New Zealand, ran in the top-ten throughout in his Citroen Junior Team-run C4 WRC, setting top ten stage times in twelve of the eighteen tests.
Heading into the final loop he was up to eighth, however, the repeat run through the 21.28 kilometre Felizes test almost proved his undoing, and when he hit something and picked up a puncture, he slipped back down to tenth.
Despite losing two places though, the F1 2007 world champion was still happy to get to the end and he finished on a high by setting the third best time in the short 2.03 km Estádio Algarve super special.
"It's been a really tough weekend, but this is all part of the learning process," said Raikkonen. "The other drivers have been here for the past three years so it's hard to be on their pace. My only objective though was to finish the rally and gain more experience, so we have fulfilled our goal here.
"The last day was particularly difficult, as the handling of the car did not feel right, so we decided to play it safe. Then we hit something on the side of the road just after the start of the first stage in the afternoon. We cut a corner and the car went onto two wheels. We risked rolling, but the car landed back on its wheels and we picked up a puncture.
"After that, I just wanted to be sure of making the finish. There was nothing more to gain apart from another points finish. Overall I've really enjoyed the experience of driving here: this was actually the first time I have ever been to Portugal and it is a really nice country, with very friendly people."
Raikkonen's co-driver Kaj Lindstrom meanwhile was again impressed with the ex-F1 star. He also added that they are continuing to refine and improve their pace notes.
"Like everything else, they are getting better all the time," Lindstrom explained. "We changed a couple of things and increased our experience in a few vital areas. With changing levels of grip and so many blind corners, it's really not been easy for Kimi but he's kept his cool throughout the rally and made a lot of progress. I've been really impressed with both his driving and his attitude."
Raikkonen now heads to Austria where he will take on Polish bike star Taddy Blazusiak on the fearsome Erzberg hillclimb course. Blazusiak will be on his trials bike whereas the 'ice-man' will be racing in the Red Bull-liveried Citroen C4 WRC car.
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