04 Dec 09
Finland's 2007 Formula One champion Kimi Raikkonen has signed a deal to drive a C4 World Rally Car on 12 rounds of the 2010 World Rally Championship.
This morning's long awaited announcement from Citroen Racing brings an end to weeks of speculation concerning the F1 star's plans for 2010, when he will take a sabbatical from his Grand Prix career.
Raikkonen will drive for Citroen's second squad, the Junior World Rally Team, thanks to backing from Red Bull - one of his personal sponsors from F1. He will be co-driven by fellow Finn Kaj Lindstrom, who previously partnered multiple WRC champion Tommi Makinen. The only rally the pair will miss next year is Rally New Zealand - an event the Junior Team is skipping altogether.
“I always wanted to compete in rally, especially in the World Rally Championship at some point in my career," said Raikkonen. "Thanks to Red Bull, I have the opportunity to drive the best car of the series with the Citroen C4. This is a new but very exciting challenge. For the moment we have a one-year contract and we will see how it goes for the future. I am really looking forward to testing the car and taking the start of the first rally.”
Partnering Raikkonen at the Citroen Junior team in 2010, will be French rising star Sebastien Ogier, 25, who will also drive a Red Bull-backed C4.
Citroen Racing Director, Olivier Quesnel said: "We will continue to count on Sebastien and Dani to defend our world titles in 2010, and we will also be prolonging our association with Sebastien Ogier who showed outstanding potential this year. Last but not least, it is with immense joy that we welcome Kimi Raikkonen to our ranks. We are very proud that he has chosen Citroen. In addition to the confirmation of these four crews, we will hopefully be able to announce other programmes over the coming weeks."
Raikkonen's only WRC experience to date came on this year's Rally Finland, where ran as high as 15th overall in an Abarth Grande Punto S2000 before crashing on the second day. He has also entered three other non-championship rallies this year.
Wrc.com understands that Raikkonen and Lindstrom will get their first taste of competition together in the C4 on the Arctic Lapland Rally, the opening round of the Finnish Championship which starts on 28 January from Rovaniemi, on the edge of the Arctic Circle.
Raikkonen made his rally debut on this year's Arctic, at the wheel of his own Fiat Abarth Grande Punto S2000. He finished thirteenth, more than seven minutes in front of F1’s 1998 and 1999 world champion Mika Hakkinen, who tackled the event in a Mitsubishi Lancer.