Crime and punishment for Kimi in Sweden
- 15th February 2010, 8:20am
The pair of felons broke into a school in the suburbs of Sweden's capital early one morning, intent on filling their boots with computer equipment and discarded packed lunches. To their delight the nefarious mission proved to be successful - up to a point.
Unfortunately, they were surprised by the caretaker who had turned up early for work. Clutching half of their ill-gotten gains, they rushed out through the playground, over a fence, and down to the convenient short-cut that they had selected for their exit.
There were four things that the robbers had initially failed to properly consider, but soon found out. In order: being early morning in Sweden, it was still pitch black. Secondly, their escape route took in an extremely steep rock face. Thirdly, the rock face - like all the rock in Stockholm - was granite. And finally, it had been raining overnight.
So imagine a granite kitchen worktop. Try tilting it at 45 degrees and pouring water on it. Then envisage your chances of walking down it, laden with several sacks of loot.
Faced with a surface even more slippery than the Rally Sweden stages, the burglars made their escape rather faster than they had anticipated. Given that the getaway route incorporated a 20-metre drop, their criminal careers were suddenly curtailed for good, with only an array of computer debris scattered down the hillside providing any clue as to what had transpired.
This cautionary tale illustrates the necessity of taking a measured approach to changing grip, and it was a skill that Kimi Raikkonen had begun to master by the end of Rally Sweden. The former F1 World Champion fulfilled his mission by getting to the end of his first World Championship rally in the Red Bull-backed Citroen C4 WRC, having put in a consistently impressive performance.
Kimi set stage times within the top 10 overall on what was only his sixth-ever rally, including a sixth-fastest time on Saturday. Had it not been for a trip into the scenery on the opening day, he would have finished comfortably within the top 10 and scored points on his debut.
"It was a really encouraging event, which allowed me to learn so much," said the Finn. "From the start to the finish I felt I was improving all the time, which is what I expected from having more time in the car. Sure, we still have a lot to learn because the whole feeling is so different to what I had in Formula 1. But I'm getting a good idea of how to use the pace notes now and I understand the car a bit better as well. We wanted to have some more experience of the car and especially get to the finish, so we have achieved everything we wanted this weekend. Now I'm looking forward to driving gravel on the next rally in Mexico; it should be a bit easier for me I think."
For co-driver Kaj Lindstrom, Rally Sweden was a revelation. "When you sit alongside a driver like Kimi, you don't expect him to be anything other than an amazing talent, but I have to say that he surprised even me this weekend. He was driving at a pace that was quick but extremely controlled; we weren't going crazy or taking any real risks. Today we built on the progress we had made over the previous days, so I'm feeling really confident for the future now."
It was a successful event for all the other Red Bull-backed Citroen crews as well: six-time World Rally Champion Sebastien Loeb got his title defence off to a solid start thanks to a strong second place, while his team mate Dani Sordo was fourth. Kimi's Citroen Junior Team team mate Sebastien Ogier was fifth on his very first Rally Sweden.
The immediate future for Kimi and Kaj, along with the other crews, consists of fajitas, refried beans and sombreros. Rally Mexico, the second event of Kimi's 12-round programme in the Citroen Junior Team, takes place from March 4-7.
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