Dani Sordo joins Kimi Räikkönen
Rally Finland (29-31 July 2010) – Preview

Following the asphalt of Bulgaria, the FIA World Rally Championship gets back to gravel with the legendary Rally Finland. For the first time this year, Dani Sordo and Marc Marti will drive for the Citroën Junior Team. The team’s second Citroën C4 WRC will be in the hands of Kimi Räikkönen and Kaj Lindström, who are competing in front of their home crowd.

For 60 years now, the 1000 Lakes Rally – which then became the Rally Finland – has been a classic fixture for all the crews. The event is often nicknamed the ‘Jyväskylä Grand Prix’ and it has featured seven times in the top 10 fastest rallies ever held in the history of the World Rally Championship. The quickest Rally Finland took place in 2005, with an average speed of 122.86 kph recorded on the event.

For the eighth round of the season, Citroën Racing has made some adjustments to its team nominations. Sébastien Ogier and Julien Ingrassia join the Citroën Total World Rally Team for the first time, while Dani Sordo and Marc Marti form part of the Citroën Junior Team as team mates to Kimi Räikkönen and Kaj Lindström. The Spanish crew will also be nominated to score points for the Citroën Junior Team in Japan and Great Britain this year.

“The objective of the Citroën Junior Team is to allow young drivers to perform to the best of their abilities at the highest level,” pointed out Team Manager Benoit Nogier. “We have seen this goal being achieved with Sébastien Ogier and we are very happy for him. His results reflect the hard work that the entire team has put in since the start of the season. We hope to be at the same level with Dani, so that he too can show what he is capable of.”

Dani Sordo, aged 27, is currently sixth in the World Championship standings and has finished on the podium twice this year, thanks to third place in Portugal and second in Bulgaria. The Spaniard looks upon his new association with the Citroën Junior Team as a fresh opportunity. “I’ll be feeling less pressure,” he said. “By switching teams, I won’t always have to drive with the fundamental need to score manufacturer points for Citroën at the back of my mind. I’m going to concentrate on just doing my own rally and delivering the best performance possible.”

For the first time in his short World Rally Championship career, Kimi Räikkönen will be starting an event that he has already contested last year. In 2009, the 2007 Formula One World Champion showed some highly impressive pace before unfortunately going off the road.

“We were able to get back up to speed on gravel thanks to a good pre-Finland test,” said Kimi. “Those testing kilometres are absolutely vital on a rally like this one. The experience from last year is certainly going to help, but there is such a performance gap between a Super 2000 machine and a World Rally Car that it’s almost like driving a different rally. I’m really looking forward to getting started. When I was in Formula One, I never got the chance to race in front of my home crowd. I know that there are going to be loads of fans out in service and by the side of the stages. For me, this is a real highlight of the season!”

Three questions to… Dani Sordo
Does joining the Citroën Junior Team feel a bit like going back to your roots?
“I started off on the World Rally Championship driving the Citroën Xsara WRC, when some people from the Citroën Junior Team were also there. These were very happy memories, and we had some good performances that helped me to secure a factory drive. There is a very nice atmosphere in the team and everybody is extremely professional. The results speak for themselves. Everything is there to enable us to have a very good rally.”

Is Finland an event you have been looking forward to this year?
“Finland a particularly tricky rally that is very fast, and so local drivers tend to do extremely well there. It’s also a rally that personally I love. The speeds we reach are very exciting for any driver and of course we have to take a few risks through the trees and over the crests. It’s an absolutely unique event. You need to have very good pace notes, and to drive precisely and decisively.”

What do you expect from this rally with the Citroën Junior Team?
“I know that I’m joining a very good team. Now it’s down to me to make the most of it. I’m going to try and give it my all on this event, as always do. For the past two years I’ve finished fourth, less than 20 seconds off the podium, and in 2009 I was only a minute behind the winner. My objective is to show that I can be competitive while setting some good times and remaining consistent throughout the event.”

Useful information
Rally Finland (round 8/13) (29-31 July)
Surface: gravel
Where: Jyväskylä
Practical information: The service park, HQ and the media centre are in the ‘Paviljonki’ in Jyväskylä. There is a one-hour time difference between Finland (GMT + 3) and central Europe (GMT + 2). So when it is 1200 in Jyväskylä, it is 1100 in Paris. On the first day of the rally, Friday 29 July, the sun will rise at 0431 and set at 2214. In July, the average maximum temperatures exceed 20°C. Local currency is the Euro.
Technical: The two Citroën C4 WRCs will be equipped with new engines that have to be used again in Germany and in Japan. The transmission and spare parts are also shared with the Rally Japan.
Tyres: A total of 36 soft-compound Pirelli Scorpion WRC tyres can be used, including six for the shakedown.
Reconnaissance: This will take place on Tuesday 27 July and Wednesday 28 July from 0800-1800, with a maximum of two passes allowed over each special stage.
Shakedown: This is scheduled for Thursday 29 July between 0800 and 1200 at Muurame, on a 4.46-kilometre stage that is 10.26 kilometres from the service park.
Press conference: Thursday 29 July at 1330 in the Media Centre.
Start: Thursday 29 July at the Paviljonki from 1800.
Route: Total length of 1307.87 km, of which 310.05 km are competitive. There are 19 special stages (11 different stages).
Timing: Day 1 – 661.73 km of which 147.27 km are competitive (11 stages, 6 different stages).
Final podium: Saturday 31 July from 1945.
Final press conference: Saturday 31 July at 2030 in the Media Centre.

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