Kimi Raikkonen says his Rally Japan shakedown accident won't have any impact on his approach to the tenth round of the World Rally Championship, which starts on the island of Hokkaido this evening.
Raikkonen clipped a concrete barrier on his final run at the stage in the Sapporo Dome, tearing the right-front wheel off his Citroen C4 WRC.
The Citroen Junior Team mechanics have fixed the steering and suspension damage to the car, but the Finn was unable to complete any further runs at shakedown. He drove the 1.57-kilometre stage five times, his quickest time being two seconds down on the Ford driver Jari-Matti Latvala’s benchmark.
“The concrete block was a bit out of line with the others,” said Raikkonen. ”So when I turned in the wheel hit the edge and came off. I don’t think it’s too serious. I’m sure the guys will be able to fix it. These stages [on Rally Japan] are going to be really tricky. If we have a problem, it’s best that we have it now so maybe this is just reminding us to be careful.”
Raikkonen’s Citroen was repaired ahead of this evening’s two runs at the superspecial stage (which is the same as Shakedown) and the Finn will take the start as expected.
Latvala was pleased with his fastest time at shakedown, but added a word of warning, pointing out that he completed the stage 10 times compared with Sebastien Loeb who was second quickest after just four laps.
Latvala’s shakedown was interrupted by an electrical fault which forced him to stop on the road section back to service. The fault was traced to the ECU and fixed by the mechanics. “Shakedown was good,” said Latvala. “I did a lot of runs because I want to practice this kind of superspecial stage. I’m happy with the way it went, but it’s not the same as the stages which are coming for us in the next three days. I am aiming for the podium on this event.”
Loeb was just 0.4 seconds behind Latvala, with Raikkonen’s Citroen Junior Team team-mate Dani Sordo third quickest. Loeb’s team-mate Sebastien Ogier was fourth fastest with Englishman Matthew Wilson running as the second fastest Ford in fifth place.
Petter Solberg’s start to the event wasn’t ideal after he suffered a sinus problem. Solberg’s illness kept him out of the pre-event press conference, but he is expected to recover in time for the start of the event this evening.
Click: wrc.com/Japan Shakedown News
Sebastien Ogier holds a slender overnight lead of Rally Japan after going fastest on Thursday evening's opening two stages.
The rally got underway at the Sapporo Dome Super Special, with drivers racing head-to-head over two passes of the 1.57km circuit, which included sweeping hairpin bends and a table-top jump.
On the first pass, run as SS1, the Frenchman, driving for the Citroen Total team in Japan, was 0.5sec quicker than his closest rival Dani Sordo.
On the second pass he beat his nearest challenger, Kimi Raikkonen, by eight-tenths. Ogier will carry a two second lead into Friday’s competition, which is based on gravel forest tracks near the city.
Two time Japan winner Mikko Hirvonen holds second place, with Dani Sordo third and Jari-Matti Latvala fourth. Kimi Raikkonen, who crashed his Citroen C4 at Thursday’s Shakedown, is fifth.
Click: wrc.com/SS1 & SS2 News