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Q & A: Raikkonen on Japan exit

Kimi Raikkonen arrived back in Sapporo earlier than he had planned, after crashing his Citroen Junior Team C4 on the final morning.

He found time to talk exclusively to AUTOSPORT about his first experience of Rally Japan - and his rookie year in the World Rally Championship.

Kimi RaikkonenQ. What happened this morning?

Kimi Raikkonen: I misunderstood the note, little bit and we slid and I stall the engine. We dropped backwards [off the road].

Q. Was the note too fast?

KR: No, no, I just misunderstood it. There was nothing wrong with the note.

Q. How have you found Rally Japan?

KR: It's been okay, actually. Some stages are quite narrow, but it hasn't been so bad as I thought, not so difficult. Today was a silly mistake from my side not to finish the rally. There were a lot of ruts, which is something I have never driven in, but it's okay. Not too bad.

Q. The ruts are hard work when the car is moving about so much underneath you...

KR: Yeah, but you can go very fast in them if you know. But if you don't know 100 per cent, the car is always going to stay there, you cannot really [push hard]. It's okay, we learned about that on this event.

Q. Did you make many changes to the notes for the second run at the stages?

KR: We made the normal amount of changes to make them faster. Some corners were quite tight, but you could go very fast.

Q. How hard was it not having a test before the event?

KR: The first morning was quite difficult. Also the car was quite difficult to drive and then we changed the car for the afternoon. It wasn't too bad.

Q. What was wrong with the car?

KR: We change the diff, but it was a different diff [we put in]. The car was good after we made the change, I was very happy with it.

Q. Not having a gravel shakedown must have made it harder as well?

KR: For sure, if you haven't had a test and you've had a tarmac rally before... it would have been more easy in the first stage with gravel shakedown, but it is what it is.

Q. And what about the year as a whole? Has the WRC been tougher than you thought?

KR: I knew it was going to be very hard and, like this rally, there are five or six guys in the front who go very fast there's no chance [to stay with them]. Okay maybe on some tarmac events we can be very close to them, but I knew there was no chance on this one. But we learned a lot.

If I compare here to the first rally in Sweden, we know so much more. It would be so much easier to go again on the rally you have done. I mean, it's pretty much what I expected, as difficult as I expected. Every rally is new. It's just the experience that we are missing.

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