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Raikkonen readies himself for WRC challenge 30 Jul 2009

L-R: Sebastien Loeb (FRA), Citroen, and Kimi Raikonen (FIN), Ferrari/FIAT. World Rally Championship, Rd9, Neste Oil Rally Finland, Jyvaskyla, Finland. Wednesday 29 July 2009. Kimi Raikkonen (FIN), makes his WRC debut in a FIAT Punto Abarth. World Rally Championship, Rd9, Neste Oil Rally Finland, Jyvaskyla, Finland. Wednesday 29 July 2009.

With a four-week break between Grands Prix, Ferrari’s Kimi Raikkonen would be forgiven for taking a well-deserved holiday. But Raikkonen clearly can’t resist the pull of racing, and instead of jetting off on a relaxing vacation, is preparing to make his World Rally Championship debut in front of his home crowd in Finland this weekend.

Having already competed in three non-championship events, including January’s Arctic Lapland rally, Raikkonen isn’t a complete newcomer to the sport, although it will be his first outing on gravel. He will be partnered by fellow Finn Kaj Lindstrom, previously co-driver for four-time WRC champion Tommi Makinen, and the Ferrari driver is keen to get started.

“I can’t wait to race at the Finland Rally, although I’m only going there to have fun,” he said. “We had some very good tests with my Fiat Grande Punto Abarth S2000 and we’re ready for racing. I’ve got a lot of experience in Formula One but not in rally driving, although I know a bit about what it’s about. Getting used to a new track in Formula One is quite easy, but in a rally the stages always change.”

The opening stage takes place on Thursday evening, before the competition really gets underway on Friday morning. Other competitors at the event will include 2008 winner Sebastien Loeb and current championship leader Mikko Hirvonen.