Raikkonen on course to race at Le Mans with Peugeot
By Phill Catterick
Monday 05 Sep 2011 15:14:00
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If you were asked to name a specific motor racing series or a car involved in motorsport in some capacity, the odds are that Kimi Raikkonen has been involved with it at some stage during his busy career.

The 31-year-old Finn and 2007 Formula One World Champion is now looking to lengthen his CV even more as he tested out a Peugeot 908 Le Mans Car recently in Spain, which could lead to him being involved with the team for the 2011 24 Hour Race.

He was joined by recognised drivers such as Stephane Sarrazin, Franck Montagny, Simon Pagenaud and Alexander Wurz, but Anthony Davidson was missing for the test as he suffered a broken shoulder in a bicycle accident last month.

Raikkonen left Formula One at the end of 2009 with Fernando Alonso taking his seat at Ferrari alongside Brazilian Felipe Massa, and immediately following his departure he went off to race for Citroen in the World Rally Championship. After taking a while to settle in he eventually recorded some solid results and decided to stay in the series for 2011 with his own team.

However rumours linking him with a return to Formula One refused to die away, with Renault reportedly interested in tempting him back. However the charismatic Finn very quickly refuted these stories by saying the team were using his name to further their own marketing activities.

To further his own activities however he chose to dwell in something else on the side of his WRC duties. NASCAR was his chosen path after signing for the Kyle Busch Motorsports Team who are powered by Toyota, and he made his debut in May of this year finishing in 27th place. Raikkonen only competes in selected Rallying events and is currently 8th in the standings with 34 points to his name.

With Peugeot now seemingly interested in securing him for Le Mans, it is possible he will be splitting his duties among three teams for next season, but the prospect of a recent Formula World Champion joining your ranks is enough to get any fan excited.

Peugeot have failed to beat Audi in the last two years at Le Mans, with reliability in particular costing them on both occasions. Audi lost two of their three cars in this year's event with Alan McNish and Mike Rockenfeller both crashing out, leaving their remaining car to fend off the Peugeot's and pick up yet another Le Mans win.

A big name would certainly secure more sponsorship and extra motivation for the team, which is exactly what they tried to do in 2007 and 2008 when Jacques Villeneuve drove for them in both Le Mans races.

Sebastien Loeb, seven times World Rally Champion, has also tested for the team but it seems more likely at this stage that Raikkonen would get the nod for any prospective drive, although no one from the Peugeot or Raikkonen camp has commented on the situation in great detail.

However on the day of his test, which was on the 24th August at the Aragon Circuit in Spain, the Peugeot Sport Team Manager Pascal Dimitri said: "Kimi adapted very quickly to the car and gave us a valuable technical feedback. It is always interesting to get inputs from drivers such as Kimi."

Peugeot's sport director Olivier Quesnel added: "Originally, this test session was planned for a long time in order to prepare the rest of the season, on top of which we have allowed Kimi to discover the 908.

"As of today, nothing has been scheduled or planned for the future."

Fans may well hear more on this story when the Le Mans series travels to Silverstone for the annual six hour event this coming weekend, and it will be interesting to see if Raikkonen, a British Grand Prix winner, will be in attendance.

One man that may not race is Anthony Davidson who is suffering with a shoulder problem, and he is quoted as saying that he remains 'hopeful' of taking part. If he doesn't then Simon Pagenaud will take his place as the manufacturer will only field two cars.


*quotes courtesy of Autosport


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