Raikkonen ready for action in France
Rallye de France - Preview
LIBERTY, EQUALITY, AND FRATERNITY: The French national motto will be a good one for Red Bull driver Kimi Raikkonen as he discovers new territory on the Rallye de France this weekend: the first time that the event is being run in Alsace after several years in Corsica.
Liberty: After showing great pace on the last all-new round of the World Rally Championship, in Bulgaria, Kimi is free to demonstrate just what he is capable of on the surface that he is most familiar with. Or, to be accurate, the surface that he is least unfamiliar with.
Equality: Kimi will be driving the same Citroen C4 WRC as the great Sebastien Loeb, who has been undefeated on asphalt since 2004. The same record stands for Citroen, which is the car to beat on sealed surfaces.
Fraternity: Once more, Kimi will be part of the extended Red Bull and Citroen family as it celebrates its home event and very possibly a seventh consecutive drivers’ title for Loeb. The rally runs through Loeb’s native Alsace, so there’s bound to be a good party with plenty of Red Bull cocktails afterwards.
Apart from that, Kimi has little idea of what to expect, although he did join the ranks of rally winners two weeks ago by triumphing on the Rallye Vosgien: a small national event in France that contains similar stages to those he will see this weekend.
Experience is what it is all about for Kimi this year, and he is hoping that the knowledge he gained in Sebastien Loeb’s back garden will help him when he faces the rest of the WRC field on what will still only be his 10th World Rally Championship event in the Citroen C4 WRC.
"It’s not easy, that’s for sure," said Raikkonen. "But I’m hoping that we can have a good result in France. If we can show the same sort of pace like we did in Bulgaria, in the top five, then that would be really good. The problem is that it’s always hard to predict a result when you don’t know anything about what the route is going to be like, so we’ll just concentrate very hard on the recce to end up with the best set of pace notes possible. Generally we’ve improved in every area since the start of the season and I feel a lot more comfortable now, so we’re hoping to continue our progress this weekend. France is obviously a really important event for Citroen so I’m sure it’s going to be a lot of fun: a bit like driving for Ferrari at Monza!"
Co-driver Kaj Lindstrom, who has sat alongside Kimi since the Finn made his world rally debut in a Super 2000 car on the Rally Finland last year, is also looking forward to the weekend, although he’s not expecting a French revolution.
"We’re learning step by step; I think sometimes people forget that this is only Kimi’s first year in rallying and that nobody has ever walked straight into the very top level to compete against the very best with no experience before," said Kaj. "Kimi’s been doing very well, and I’m sure that he can improve again in France. Asphalt is obviously a surface that he knows a bit better, and together we’ll be working on putting together a good set of pace notes during the recce so that Kimi can make the most of his talent on the stages."
Rallye de France is based in Strasbourg: the seat of the European Parliament and the second-largest port on the Rhine River, after Duisburg in Germany.
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