KIMI FEELS THE POWER IN JAPAN Japan seems to love motorsport but hate horsepower. While Red Bull's Kimi Raikkonen and the other World Rally Championship competitors power down the stages in Hokkaido, many of the spectators watching them will ...
KIMI FEELS THE POWER IN JAPAN
Japan seems to love motorsport but hate horsepower. While Red Bull's Kimi Raikkonen and the other World Rally Championship competitors power down the stages in Hokkaido, many of the spectators watching them will drive home in cars that have about a sixth of the horsepower of Kimi's Citroen Junior Team C4 WRC.
The Japanese 'kei car' regulations are designed to encourage mini cars to ease space on crowded roads by offering important tax advantages. It's no surprise that they have become incredibly popular, with nearly two million of them sold last year. At a maximum of 3.4 metres long, they are about a metre shorter than Kimi's rally car - but many of them also have four-wheel drive and turbochargers at their disposal, just like Kimi.
Mini cars have to make use of every bit of technology available to get the most out of their permitted 660cc engines. Luckily, Kimi had considerably more power at his disposal as he tackled the eight demanding stages that made up the second day of Rally Japan: only the ninth World Championship event of his brief career to date in the C4 WRC.
Having started the day in a point-scoring 10th place, Kimi made the most of the experience he had gained over the previous day to move up to eighth. For the flying Finn, it is all about gaining knowledge of some of the trickiest stages that he will face all year. Showing his consistency he set eighth-quickest time on all the stages today apart from one, where he was classified sixth.
"I'm pleased with the way that things have gone today, especially because the guys in front of me have really been pushing hard, if you look at the gaps at the top," said Kimi, the winner of the 2005 Japanese Grand Prix. "We've made no mistakes today and we've kept a consistent pace, which is the only way we are going to learn. My target before this rally was just to get to the finish and take away as much knowledge as I can, and so far I would say that we are on course to achieve this goal. The car has been really good today too: we were able just to concentrate on our driving and we learned a lot. Of course there is still some way to go, but if we can finish in this position tomorrow I will be quite happy."
Co-driver Kaj Lindstrom, who has been with Kimi ever since the former Grand Prix champion made his rally debut last year, added: "Today was actually much better than yesterday because we definitely benefited from the experience of driving on these roads after not being on gravel for more than a month. The gaps to the people in front of us have come down consistently, and that's what we're going to keep working on."
Kimi has steered clear of mistakes all day but tomorrow it will be even more important for him to have a clean run over the eight stages that remain, as there is no service halt in between them. It's a tough task that needs drivers to stay cool - so it's just as well that Kimi is the Iceman...
-source: red bull