Raikkonen takes his first rally victory
Citroen Junior Team’s Kimi Raikkonen claimed victory over the weekend in his showdown against Polish enduro bike rider Taddy Blazusiak, organised by their mutual sponsor, Red Bull.
Raikkonen drove his regular Citroen C4 WRC on a 13-kilometre gravel stage time trial near Erzberg, Austria, that forms part of the Red Bull Hare Scramble bike event. Blazusiak - a triple Hare Scramble champion - rode the same stage on his KTM bike but had to give best to the former Formula One title-winner, who won the stage by 28 seconds.
A crowd of more than 30,000 people gathered to see the head-to-head encounter, which was held on rough gravel. In total, the twisty stage contained 93 corners but became progressively faster towards the finish. As a forfeit, the loser was tasked with washing the winner’s vehicle on the podium.
Raikkonen, the 2007 Formula One champion, said: “It’s the first time that I’ve ever done anything like this and I really enjoyed myself. It was a very close contest and in the end I think our better top speed in the rally car is what helped us. In the slow parts, it was much more evenly matched. I like bikes a lot, so it was great to meet Taddy and chat with him.”
Blasuziak concluded: “Really, it was all about the fun. It was a privilege for me to compete against Kimi and I hope that we put on a good show. I tried my hardest, but in the end it wasn’t quite enough, so now I just have to congratulate Kimi. And wash his car too!”
Raikkonen’s next challenge will be Rally della Lanterna in Italy this weekend: a small asphalt event that the Citroen Junior Team is using as preparation for the forthcoming sealed-surface rounds of the World Rally Championship.