Raikkonen ready for rollacoaster Finland

Raikkonen ready for rollacoaster FinlandFrom General Article [ 27/07/2010 ].
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Question: what do Finland's Kimi Raikkonen and America's Mike Powell have in common? Answer: both of them are experts at the long jump.

Powell, born in Pennsylvania, broke Bob Beamon's 23-year-old long jump record at the 1991 Tokyo World Athletics Championships, leaping for 8.95 metres. The record still stands today.

It's impressive, but not quite as far as a World Rally Car can jump
over the famous rollercoaster crests of Rally Finland, which launch
the cars into the air like trampolines. The unofficial record is held
by Finnish driver Harri Rovanpera, who managed to make his car fly for
a whole 75 metres a few years ago. Beat that, Mike.

But as spectacular as it looks, Kimi Raikkonen will be aiming to
spend as little time as possible in the air on Rally Finland. That's
not because he's got a fear of flying (which is just as well as he's
competing on 12 rallies scattered all over the world this year with
Red Bull). Instead it's because there are certain things that you
can't do when you are airborne in a rally car. Notably, brake and
steer.

When you only spend half the time with your wheels touching the
ground, it's essential to make the most of those moments. Luckily Kimi
has some experience of Rally Finland before, but it's still going to
be a huge adventure in front of his home crowd. On this occasion, he
doesn't even need Red Bull to give him wings.

"I'm really looking forward to it," said Kimi. "It's so exciting to
drive the car on these roads, and it's certainly a very different
experience to what I have been used to in Formula One. But although it
sounds strange, Finland is probably the closest a gravel rally gets to
being on asphalt. Some of the roads are really fast and smooth; others
are twisty and bumpier. That's what I really like about rallying:
everything is so varied, even during the course of just one rally.
There's no way that you can memorise the route like you would on a
race track, so instead you have to concentrate on the pace notes. A
rally car isn't as fast as a Formula One car, but when you are
flat-out between the trees, believe me, it feels just as quick! Rally
Finland is something that I grew up watching when I was small, so it
feels very special for me to be competing here now."

For Kimi it's the second time on this event, whereas his co-driver
Kaj Lindstrom is tackling Rally Finland for the 11th time. Kaj comes
from Mikkeli, not so far from the rally's base in Jyvaskyla, so he's
got a pretty good idea of what to expect from the fastest rally in the
World Championship. And yet it nearly always springs a surprise.

"I actually couldn't quite remember how many times I had competed on
the Rally Finland before: I really had to stop and think about it,"
commented Kaj. "I remember very clearly though the first time that I
did it with Kimi last year. We were just in a Super 2000 car but
straight away we were in the top three of the class, and it was clear
just how much speed and natural talent he had in rallying. Obviously
our task is a bit more complicated this year, but there's no real
pressure either: we had a useful test and we're just going to go out
there, do our best, and try to put on a really nice show."

Mike Powell, who now teaches long jump technique to young athletes,
once said: "I believe that the approach in 90% of the jump. It sets up
the rhythm, it sets up the takeoff, and that's really the majority of
the work. Once you leave the ground this whole distance that you can
go is already pre-determined by the amount of speed you have at
take-off."

Kimi and friends, please take note.