Kimi continues the learning curve in Portugal
Red Bull Rally de Portugal day three report
It takes up to 50 years for a vintage Port wine to mature to its full complexity, and the greatest Port vintage of this century is reckoned by experts to date from 1927, with several cases still in existence.
The moral of the story? It takes time to get the best out of what Portugal has to offer. The Port-maker’s art cannot be learned overnight and neither can the stages of Rally Portugal.
Red Bull driver Kimi Raikkonen has got to the end of a tough second day in ninth place, after having to cope with some of the toughest roads he has seen so far on his debut year of the World Rally Championship.
With the Rally de Portugal forming part of the series for the past three seasons, Kimi’s rivals have effectively got a three-year head start on the iceman: who is competing on only his seventh WRC rally.
Despite this huge handicap, he worked hard on his pace notes, steered clear of trouble, and brought his Red Bull-liveried Citroen safely back to the service park near Faro. While the car was serviced Kimi ate his dinner - but there will be no vintage Port to enjoy with it until the rally finishes tomorrow.
"It’s been a really tough day," said the Finn. "It’s not easy at all to get used to these stages, particularly after a month out of the car. Every single gravel rally we have done so far has been very different, so as soon as you get used to one surface, you are suddenly presented with something else totally different. That’s what makes rallying so interesting but of course when you are starting out it’s a hard sport to learn. When you are racing, one circuit is quite like another. But rally is an even bigger challenge. I’ve had a lot of fun and we are on course for our target to finish in the points. The stages today were definitely tougher than the ones yesterday, and it’s going to be another hard day tomorrow as well. But these experiences really help us to learn, so it’s good."
Kimi’s co-driver Kaj Lindstrom has also been pleased with the progress that the duo have made, particularly when it comes to working on the pace notes. "These stages have been quite complicated in terms of pace notes, but our system is really beginning to work well now," he said. "For Kimi, this has been a big thing to get used to and I’m very impressed by the way that he is taking everything on board. Nothing seems to bother him: he is learning all the time and on every rally we make more progress."
A final fascinating fact about Port, which is traditionally made in Oporto: the venue for the pre-rally road show last Sunday. It is the third-oldest defined and protected wine region in the world, having been designated as an appellation in 1756. The oldest is Chianti in Italy (1716) followed by Tokaj in Hungary (1730).
More on WRC