Raikkonen targets rally crown with Citreon

Kimi Raikkonen, Formula 1 champion in 2007, will aim for the world rally championship (WRC) title next season after signing for Citroen.

The 30-year-old Finn, who has left Ferrari to take a sabbatical from F1, will team up with experienced co-driver Kaj Lindstrom in 2010, rallying’s official website reported on Friday.

Raikkonen, who took part in the Rally of Finland this year, opted for a change of codes after Fernando Alonso’s move to Ferrari and his failure to secure a seat with McLaren for the 2010 F1 campaign.

With no other competitive drive on the horizon, Raikkonen’s quest for new challenges means he will compete in 12 of the 13 rounds of the 2010 WRC, the only omission being New Zealand.

The Finn will drive for the Citroen Junior Team, joining reigning Junior WRC champion Sebastien Ogier in the Red Bull-backed squad.

“I always wanted to compete in rally, especially in the World Rally Championship at some point in my career,” said Raikkonen, who this year impressed on his rally debut in Finland driving an S2000 Abarth.

“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.

“I am really looking forward to testing the car and taking the start of the first rally.”

Raikkonen has signed a one-year contract, leaving the door open for a return to F1 in 2011 providing he can claim a competitive drive, adding: “We will see how it goes for the future.”

Raikkonen joins Citroen’s burgeoning stable of drivers that also includes factory stars in six-times world champion Sebastien Loeb and Dani Sordo.

Delighted team boss Olivier Quesnel remarked: “We will continue to count on Sebastien and Dani to defend our world titles in 2010.

“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 he has chosen Citroen.”—Sapa-AFP