Two of the most exciting personalities in the World Rally Championship, Kimi Raikkonen and Petter Solberg, are set to contest Rally Australia on the Coffs Coast of New South Wales in September.

Raikkonen, the 2007 Formula 1 World Champion known as “The Iceman”, and 2003 World Rally champion Solberg, nicknamed “Hollywood”, both will drive works-built Citroen DS3 WRC rally cars, recent team statements have confirmed.

They promise to bring massive fan and media attention to the 8-11 September event, which will be round 10 of the 2011 World Rally Championship.

Rally Australia General Manager Michael Masi said it was wonderful news that Raikkonen and Solberg would compete in Australia.

“These two drivers are both World Champions and motorsport mega-stars. To see them driving their million-dollar rally cars on the roads of the Coffs Coast will be a huge attraction,” he said.

Raikkonen won the 2007 Formula 1 World Championship, including the Australian Grand Prix, for the Ferrari team before putting his hard-earned reputation on the line in a switch to the WRC in 2010.

Known for his ultra-calm personality, the 31-year-old Finn experienced a chequered debut season, finishing 10th, but rarely failing to entertain with spectacular displays of driving skill.

He also contributed far more than results to the sport by attracting fans and media wherever he competed.

Citroen Racing boss Oliver Quesnel announced this week Raikkonen’s ICE1 Racing team would contest 10 WRC rounds this year, not including Mexico, Argentina or Italy and thereby confirming the former grand prix star’s Rally Australia debut.

Solberg is one of the WRC’s all-time fan favourites.

In 2003, he won Rally Australia in Western Australia and the World Championship, driving for the Subaru World Rally Team.

He remained with the team, alongside the Australian driver Chris Atkinson from 2005, until it quit the WRC after 2008.

In contrast to the often-taciturn Raikkonen, the amiable 36-year-old Norwegian is far from a stereo-typical Scandinavian. He wears his heart on his sleeve and drives his cars with vigour, passion and sideways panache.

Solberg looks set in 2011 for the most competitive season yet with his Citroen-powered Petter Solberg World Rally Team.

His giant-killing drives reaped third in the Championship last year. This year he is scheduled to start all 13 rounds with an identical car to Citroen Total World Rally Team pilots Sebastien Loeb and Sebastien Ogier.

Mr Masi said fans and competitors would be keen to see how Raikkonen and Solberg handled the challenging roads on Rally Australia.

“We very much look forward to receiving their official entries to Rally Australia, along with other stars such as Sebastien Loeb, Sebastien Ogier, Mikko Hirvonen and Jari-Matti Latvala,” he said.

“In the coming months we will also be announcing details on where fans can see their heroes in action at designated spectator points and other venues.”

Both drivers’ DS3 WRC cars will be prepared at Citroen racing’s base on the outskirts of Paris and serviced at Rally Australia by factory mechanics.

Raikkonen’s co-driver will be fellow Finn Kaj Lindstrom, while Chris Patterson from Northern Ireland will call the notes for Solberg.

The WRC starts with Rally Sweden on 10-13 February.
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