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Raikkonen rapid before crash

The split times from the fourth stage of Rally Bulgaria have shown that Kimi Raikkonen was ahead of Sebastien Loeb for the first two sectors of the 17-mile Belken Lake test

Raikkonen was enjoying his most competitive stage of his World Rally Championship career before he rolled off the road not far from the end of the test.

At the first split, just under a mile from the start, the Citroen Junior Team driver was a tenth of a second faster, but in the next four miles he pulled a further three tenths out of the six-time World Rally champion.

Raikkonen then dropped time to Loeb, but was still only five seconds behind him when he went off the road. Had he finished the stage, Raikkonen would likely have halved the gap between his time and Loeb's fastest time.

Citroen Junior Team principal Benoit Nogier said: "We've been very pleased with the pace we have seen from Kimi today. And in this stage in particular, he was going really well."

Raikkonen's Citroen is currently on its way back to the service park on the back of a recovery truck, but following an initial inspection from Citroen technicians it is thought unlikely he will return for the second day of competition. Confirmation of whether he restarts is expected later this evening.

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