Kimi Raikkonen enjoyed a trouble-free run through the second and final day of the Arctic Rally to reach the finish in his first event in a Citroen WRC car.
Any hopes of a result for the Red Bull-backed Citroen Junior team driver went out of the window when he crashed off the road for 30 minutes on the second stage yesterday, but the 2007 Formula 1 World Champion said he was happy with the progress he made through today's six stages.
"Things didn't exactly get off to the best start as we went off the road during the second stage," said Raikkonen. "But luckily there was no mechanical damage and I was able to continue in the rally. From there it got a lot better for me and we were much more consistent. We put a few more kilometers under our belt, which was vital to help us continue learning the C4 WRC. As well as being pleased by our performances I was also pleased by the way we were able to work with the team. We developed our setup in the right direction and now we are going to continue our work in order to arrive in Sweden in the strongest possible position."
Citroen team manager Benoit Nogier was pleased with how Raikkonen recovered after his accident. The Finn was within 0.8sec per kilometer of fellow Citroen driver Dani Sordo's pace.
"He was quickly able to put his mishap at the start of the rally behind him and get to the end of a complex event, while improving at the same pace as Dani," said Nogier.
Sordo won the rally outright in the only other WRC entry, scoring 12 out of 12 fastest times on the Rovaniemi-based event.
"I enjoyed myself so much that I would happily have driven on for a few more stages," said the Spaniard. "This weekend went well, run in perfect conditions, and we were able to carry out some useful work with the team. Of course, there was no real pressure. All the more reason for us to drive a very disciplined event. After looking at the data with the engineers, it's clear that we've made consistent progress. That gives me a lot of confidence as we head into the new season, which is just a few days away now."
Nogier added: "This practice event allowed the team to make more progress in preparation for the Rally Sweden. Dani drove exactly the sort of rally that we expected from him. He was fast and consistent, growing in confidence on the surface that comes least naturally to him."