Yay! First points for Kimi Raikkonen in his 3rd WRC rally. 8th place and 4 points with the new points system. Granted there were only 10 WRC cars competing but he finished the rally without making any major mistakes and keeping a steady pace along the way. According to Kimi, the Jordan rally was his biggest challenge ever. And that says a lot coming from him. Quote right after he finished the rally:
“Yeah, I mean for sure was the most difficult thing that I have done so far in my racing career. The first day was very difficult, then after that we just decided to take it pretty easy and learn as much as we can. But I must say that this has been a difficult race.” http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ODy_uvCsfEA
It was clear that his aim was to finish the rally because he desperately needs the experience on gravel. And he got that – in spades. Even if there is a long way to go still. Looking at Day 1, you can tell how difficult and challenging it was looking at the times he set. But at the same time it was all about pacing it and finding a rhythm to gain experience from and keeping it on the road. He had a couple of minor spins that he recovered from. I think about one per day if I recall correctly. But he was among the top 8 on several stages. His best stage was SS8 where he got the 6th best time.
I was listening to the rally radio on the final day and after one of the stages, interviewer Colin caught a glimpse of Kimis pacenotes in Kais hands. And he said they looked extremely complicated with a huge amount of info in them. Im not an expert on pacenotes but Kai certainly is, having sat beside multiple WRC champ Tommi Makkinen. And his reply was that they contained just the necessary information. You can read about Kais praise for Kimi here: http://www.autosport.com/news/report.php/id/82629
One of the things Kai said in the interview above, was that Kimis pacenotes were now as good as the frontrunners. And that they probably made less changes to them on the second run than some of the top guys. Reading this shocked me. I dont understand how this can even be possible. Now, I am not trying to big Kimi up anymore than he deserves to, but picture this: Its his 8th ever rally. Only his 7th with own pacenotes. The top guys have been in this sport for over a decade. And they have also been to Rally Jordan before. So they can just re-use and adjust the pacenotes they had from last time around – even if only 6 or 8 of the stages were the same from last time its still a huge advantage. And yet Kimi almost got it right the first time around? I really struggle to understand how on earth he could do that from only a couple of recce runs on Wednesday. Thats crazy stuff people. And very encouraging as good notes is the key to going fast. Here is some on- and outboard footage: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=LgUZtkXszEk
TEAM STRATEGIES AND “SWEEPING”
I want to touch on this because we really saw this coming into play on the 3rd and final day of the rally. On Day 2, Loeb was leading the rally and was set to start first on the final stages as the rules say the leader from the day before does. This is a disadvantage due to all the loose gravel on a “fresh” stage. Citroen said that the car going first could lose 0.3 seconds pr kilometer, maybe more, compared to the number 3 or 4 car and downwards. By then most of the loose gravel have been “sweeped” away by the first cars and a line starts to appear. On the longest stage of 41 kms that could mean about 13 seconds in the end.
Because of that, Citroen planned to time it so that Latvala would stay ahead of Ogier and then would have to start 2nd behind Loeb. But Ogier got the split times too late from the team and by a mistake came in faster than Latvala, dropping Latvala to 3rd. Meaning that Latvala would now have the advantage of two cars “sweeping” the road in front of him. So far so good. And with Latvala 27 seconds behind Loeb, the stage was set for an exciting final day with Loeb being a bit disadvantaged and Latvala trying to catch up.
But that was not to be. On Saturday Citroen checked Ogier in late on purpose, which gave him a 50 second penalty that dropped him to fifth. Meaning Latvala would now again have to start as the 2nd car after Loeb. Thats how important these starting positions are viewed.
Ford responded promptly by checking Mikko Hirvonen out 9 minutes early from service which moved him ahead of teammate Latvala in the starting position. (Mikko was out of contention anyway after a crash on Day 2) So now Latvala was back to having two cars ahead of him. In a final move Citroen checked Ogier in early ahead of the other drivers, which meant he would start all the stages ahead of Loeb and by that would do the worst of the road sweeping.
This means that Citroen basically threw away a podium for Ogier with that move. He was not a happy camper. You can read about the whole ordeal here: http://wrc.com/jsp/index.jsp?lnk=101&id=7364
This is the part of rallying that I really dont like to see. They should put a stop to this immidiately in my opinion. Cars going slow on the final stage of the day to get a worse (better) start position the next day. Checking in early, checking in late. Its just nonsense and it detracts from the racing. Send out some recce cars or some lower class cars first or something. Just anything but this. From then on we all knew that Loeb was going to walk it and from a rally fans perspective its a real shame as we could have had an exiting finish.
However, congratulations are due to Loeb. He is a machine and looks almost unbeatable. What looked so promising for Ford after Sweden is now only a faint memory. They need to find some speed and fast. Or else Loeb is going to run away with it again. Mikkos accident was peculiar. A very odd mistake. And at a very bad time too. See it here: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=4mDLeDab3YU
Once again big congrats to Kimi. He came, he saw and he prevailed. In true Roman fashion. As you can see from this picture: http://i41.tinypic.com/3538odw.jpg
Man, I just love that guy. Was it a small protest from Kimi not to take his Red Bull cap off for the helmet and opted to look extremely ridiculous instead? But at the same time cool in a way only Kimi can pull off. Haha. Thx for the lulz Kimi. You crack me up 😀
I can just imagine him being grateful for not having to do all the silly PR stuff in F1 anymore and then he gets a call from Robertson or Quesnel. “I have to wear what now?? A helmet and shit!? Vi**u!”
Well, he took it all in good stride and gave something to enjoy for us fans. But whatever you do – dont touch his hap! lol@0:42
Alrighty then. Rally Turkey kicks off in less than 2 weeks. Looking forward to that. A big thank you to the people who posts those videos I have linked to and more. We really appreciate it 😉
Take care now.
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