Mike Stevens | Dec 9, 2009

CITROEN WORLD RALLY boss Olivier Quesnel believes Kimi Raikkonen is capable of making a significant impression in his debut season and progressing to the manufacturer’s senior team in 2011.

Raikkonen has signed a one-year deal to compete for Citroen’s junior team, and will complete an entire season behind the wheel of a C4, excluding Rally New Zealand.

The Finn has held a long standing interest in rally, competing in a World Rally Championship event this season behind the wheel of a Fiat Punto S2000, showing great promise before crashing out in Finland.

And after he failed to snare a drive at McLaren, Raikkonen opted to take a sabbatical year away from the sport, and launch a full time tilt at rallying.

Quesnel told Auto Hebdo he is prepared for the 30-year-old to make an impact during his debut campaign and prolong his stay in the series.

“We are not asking for the impossible for a first season, but it is clear that if he progresses and shows the right level, then he could slot into the first team [in 2011],” he said.

Raikkonen did little to dismiss suggestions he may make a permanent switch to rally, saying he is leaving his options open.

“I always wanted to compete in rally, especially in the World Rally Championship at some point in my career," he said.

“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.

“For the moment we have a one-year contract and we will see how it goes for the future. I am really looking forward to testing the car and taking the start of the first rally.”

Raikkonen will team up with former Junior WRC World Champion Sebastian Ogier, while six-time World Champion Sebastian Loeb and Dani Sordo will line-up in the senior outfit.

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