After a long wait since Sweden, it was finally time for Kimi to hit the dirt again. Namely the dusty roads around Algarve. Its a tricky rally as Latvalas horrific crash proved a couple of years ago:
Ken Block was really lucky and did a Kimi and crashed in shakedown and damaged the car so much he couldnt start the rally: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=mMXSbr3FE00
Mads Ostberg also had a heartbreak when he ripped his frontwheel off in the very first stage:
As we can see, it is not only rookies that make silly mistakes. Ostberg has been in this game a long time.
Anyway, Kimi kept his nose clean and set some regular 8th fastest times in the morning on Friday. He hit some trouble on SS5 though, where he had a puncture which dropped him to 11th place. It happens as it did to other drivers as well.
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=5sby5cdccFg (Video says SS7 but Im pretty sure it was SS5)
No need to complain about that except if your name is Petter Solberg. He had 5 puntures I believe. So many that he had to retire for the day because he ran out of spare tires. Unbelievable. And such a shame too. He won several stages when he was problem free. And he would have fought for the win and probably won the rally too without these niggles.
Kimi fought his way up to 9th at the start of the second day after his puncture. It was later revealed that Ice 1 racing came to Portugal with the wrong setups. They got the setups right at the end of day 2/Saturday but not perfect until Sunday. this showed in the final 2 stages on Saturday where he clocked a 5th and a 6th fastest time. By that time he was up to 7th due to Petter Solbergs problems.
His biggest issue this day was being behind a car for a third of Stage 11. This cost him about 30 seconds. And in theory it also cost him 6th place.
Kimis usual rival, Matthew Wilson was having a fantastic rally and was way out of reach. He seems to go really well on the Portuguese roads. We will have to wait for a rematch in Jordan (unless it is cancelled due to unrest in the region)
Kimi gets an encouraging 4th fastest time in SS16. A very conpetitive time compared to a couple of the faster guys. It was the second run through the stage which often helps Kimi to improve a lot due to his inexperience.
By now it was time for the Power Stage on SS17. Kimi was up to 6th place due to tech troubles for Henning Solberg. Unfortunately for Kimi it was a very long stage and with the other Solberg charging behind him with nothing to lose, he was relegated to 7th in the end. Had it been a short one like Sweden then he would have kept his place.
Still, he was very consistent and kept it on the road. Now he just needs to build his speed as he goes along. He is quoted for focusing on driving at his own pace in this rally and not wanting to take any unnecessary risks.
Read more here:
The Jordan rally is coming up in less than 3 weeks (hopefully) and we are hoping for a great result like last year where he got 5th place. (Edit: 5th was in Turkey. My bad. Jordan was 8th place) This may be a tall order to repeat with a couple more cars in the mix. But anything can happen. Go Kimi Go!!
A final note from me is a concern for the Ford cars. They were so stricken with reliability in Portugal. Broken suspension for Hirvonen, broken driveshaft for Latvala, broken power steering for Henning. It is really strange when you consider that they ran the Fiestas all year (albeit with a different engine) whereas the Citroen DS3 is just reliable out of the box. This is something that wins championships so Ford needs to sort it now.
Ogier was the man who came, saw and conquered in Portugal. A nice redemption after crashing out of the lead in Mexico. Big congrats to Seb 2.0.
Take care Raikkos. Sorry for the short review but I also have an F1 recap to write 😉
Oh, and dont forget to watch Kingas recap of Kimis rally in Portugal: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=QMaNWvW2kag
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