Mike Stevens | Jun 30, 2009

FERRARI'S KIMI RAIKKONEN is poised to make his debut in the World Rally Championship after it was announced he would compete in his home event, Rally Finland, next month.

Raikkonen, who has already competed in three minor events earlier in the year, will contest the rally in a Fiat Grande Punto S2000 alongside countryman Kaj Lindstrom, a former co-driver of four-time World Champion Tommi Makinen.

Incidentally, it will be Makinen's rally outfit team, Tommi Makinen Racing that will prepare Raikkonen's car for the event, the former Formula 1 World Champion's first on gravel.

Lindstrom believes the challenge of competing in a gravel event will prove a stern test of Raikkonen's ability to adapt to ever changing conditions.

"He has competed on snow and asphalt, but never gravel, but we have tested on gravel," Lindstrom told Autosport.

"But one of the hardest things for Kimi will be the speed of this event. Rally Finland and the roads used are so fast, like nothing we have done before - that does take time.

"But, let's not forget, this guy is a pretty good driver! He's very talented and I'm sure he will cope fine."

Raikkonen made his rally debut at the Arctic Rally in January, where he finished 13th before backing up with a 17th place effort at Vaakuna Rally, a snow based event.

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The 29-year old managed to climb up as high as seventh place midway through the rally until an off-road excursion curtailed his hopes of a top ten finish.

His last race, the Rally della Marca, finished in disappointment after Raikkonen damaged a wheel during the third stage and failed to finish.

While his previous experience leaves him in good stead, Lindstrom said the Rally Finland is a much more difficult affair, characterised by super-fast stages and dangerous curves.

"Rally Finland is not going to be easy for sure. The rallies we have done so far have been smaller events, a three-day WRC round is much longer and more intense than those national events," he said.

"And it doesn't just start with the rally, we have two days to go through the recce and make the notes. Kimi makes very good pace notes, but there will be pressure on for the recce."

Often criticised for a perceived lack of motivation, Raikkonen's participation in the event will provide his ever-growing band of critics with further ammunition and embolden cries the 17-time Grand Prix winner will bow out of F1 at the end of the season, making way for Fernando Alonso at Ferrari.

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