Solid Finnish start for the Citroën Junior Team
Rally Finland - Day one
The first half of the Rally Finland has gone perfectly to plan for the Citroën Junior Team. Dani
Sordo and Marc Marti are fifth overall, having set a fastest stage time in the land of the 1000
lakes. Kimi Räikkönen and Kaj Lindström are currently fifth. A long day of 162 competitive
kilometres remains on the programme for tomorrow.
The Rally Finland got underway on Thursday night with Laajavouri: a televised stage that used to form the shakedown for the event. Both Dani Sordo and Kimi Räikkönen made a careful start to finish in the top 10 on the opening test, held in a heatwave that saw Thursday’s temperatures peak at 37.2°C: a national record.
The second half of day one got underway at 0630 this morning with two loops of two special stages that were run consecutively, without a visit to the service park in Jyväskylä.
Dani Sordo got off to a flying start from the very beginning of the event. After a sixth-quickest, a fifthquickest and a fourth-quickest time, the Spaniard set his very first fastest stage time in Finland on Jukojärvi 2: “I’ve got a very good feeling,” he said. “The Citroën Junior Team’s C4 WRC suits me perfectly. We worked extremely well together with the team and I’m feeling very comfortable on these fast stages.”
Kimi Räikkönen was competing on his home event for the second time and he also made progress with every kilometre that passed. Fulfilling all the goals that he had set himself to the letter, the former F1 World Champion returned to Jyväskylä occupying eighth place overall at midday service. “I used the first few stages just to get to grips with everything,” said the Finn. “The pace is extremely quick with the Citroën C4 WRC, much more than was the case last year! The car is perfect but I’m still lacking in both experience and confidence. I can see where I am losing time though.”
As he racked up the kilometres and built up his experience, Kimi was slowed on SS8 after Henning Solberg went off. “People were signalling for me to slow down,” he reported. “Afterwards, it was hard to find the right rhythm again. The stages that we are doing for the first time are the most difficult ones. I’m trying to attack but it’s a lot easier the second time round. We have to carry on like this now but make sure that we stay concentrated in order not to make any mistakes. Tomorrow is a long day and I hope that it will be a little easier.”
In the afternoon, Dani Sordo was not as comfortable as he had been in the morning. On these extremely specialised roads, where even the smallest mistake can carry serious consequences, the Spaniard preferred not to take any risks. “I had some problems with my pace notes,” he explained. “You need 100% confidence to go quickly in Finland and that wasn’t the case for me then. I lost a few seconds but we are still in the running. We’re going to work hard with our stage videos tonight in order to push hard again tomorrow!”
With its new two-day format this year, the Rally Finland is due to finish tomorrow night. Eight special stages are in store for all the crews, totalling 162.78 kilometres.
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