Citroen Racing director Olivier Quesnel reckons Kimi Raikkonen is a good bet to score his first World Rally Championship podium finish after his strong start to Rally Bulgaria.
Despite competing on his first ever asphalt round of the WRC – and only his third sealed-surface rally – Raikkonen held fifth place this morning. The Finn was fifth fastest on both stages and 34.3 seconds off the rally lead at the midday service.
Raikkonen's Citroen C4 WRC dropped 17.2sec on the opening 20-mile test and 17.1 seconds in the next 17-miler. That compares with the 36.8 and 34.8 seconds he dropped on the first two stages last time out in Portugal (where the stages were 14 and 12 miles long).
"We are very pleased to see the speed from Kimi this morning and I think he will get better this afternoon," Quesnel said. "Maybe he can make the podium this time."
Raikkonen was also pleased with his achievements on the opening loop.
"It was good this morning," he said. "We had some understeer at the end of both stages. I'm not sure what it was causing the problem, maybe the tyre was starting to move. In some corners, there was quite a lot of shit being pulled into the road by the cars ahead."
Raikkonen was hoping to make time up on the cars ahead by taking a soft Pirelli tire for the afternoon loop. It is reported there is an 80 percent chance of rain through the day's fourth stage.