KIMI READY FOR WET AND WILD STAGES IN WALES Kimi Raikkonen, backed by Red Bull on the World Rally Championship this year, was exactly one month and four days old when the legendary Hannu Mikkola won what was then called the RAC Rally in 1979: a...
KIMI READY FOR WET AND WILD STAGES IN WALES
Kimi Raikkonen, backed by Red Bull on the World Rally Championship this year, was exactly one month and four days old when the legendary Hannu Mikkola won what was then called the RAC Rally in 1979: a four-day marathon up and down the length of Great Britain in wet and wintry conditions, featuring 56 special stages and 687 competitive kilometres.
Kimi won't have noticed the first time that the Rally Great Britain came into his life as he could not even walk, let alone drive. But several years later this fact would go on to have an immense significance, as Mikkola is one of the many Finnish rally heroes who inspired Kimi to go beyond his comfort zone and step inside a rally car.
Mikkola was one of the flying Finns who made the specialised forests of Great Britain their own, along with Henri Toivonen, Markku Alen, Tommi Makinen and Marcus Gronholm; to name just a few examples. In fact, a Finn has won in Great Britain 21 times in the 65-year history of the event.
In his first year of the World Rally Championship Kimi certainly won't be challenging for victory in Wales, but nonetheless all these icons of the sport have made their mark on the 2007 Formula 1 World Champion.
"Rallying is like a national sport in Finland: since I was a kid I followed it and I grew up with all these big names who were right at the front," he said. "So rallying is something that I always wanted to try: it was not at all a sudden decision. At the end of last year the opportunity came up so I was very happy to take it. Our season has not gone entirely according to plan, but this is actually what I expected: it's completely normal when you are learning something so new. But I've really enjoyed it. Not so many people get the chance to compete at this level and I want to use all the lessons I have learned this year. I'm sure that Rally Great Britain is going to be a very tricky way to end the season because I hear that the grip is changing all the time and I know that the weather is going to be bad, but you learn more by pushing yourself to the limit. I'm looking forward to it a lot."
The limit is a place that Kimi has always been fascinated to explore, and in Rally Great Britain he will face the possibility of torrential rain, freezing fog and maybe even patches of ice. Or possibly all three at the same time. As always though, he is able to rely on co-driver Kaj Lindstrom to guide him through all the potential pitfalls. Kaj has plenty of experience of Great Britain, having even taken part in - and won - the British Rally Championship.
"A bit like Finland, rallying is really part of the local culture in Britain," added Kaj. "There's always a really enthusiastic crowd of spectators, and wherever we go we get massive support. We'll need it, as these are some of the most difficult stages of the year. If it rains the surfaces just turn into mud and it becomes almost impossibly slippery. Once more, the aim here is simply for us to get to the finish, so this will be the priority. We're here to learn and so we have to get through all the stages."
Kimi and Kaj will also have an opportunity to see some of the famed Welsh countryside this weekend as remote service is in Builth Wells, towards the middle of Wales. Rather than producing rally cars the little town is more famous for producing calves, as service is held inside one the biggest cattle markets in Wales: even bigger than the main street of Cardiff on a Saturday night...
-source: red bull