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Motor Racing

Raikkonen set for rally switch

Kimi Raikkonen is to switch from Formula One to the World Rally Championship for next season.

It has long been speculated the 2007 world champion would turn his attention to rally after leaving Ferrari at the end of the recent F1 campaign.

Raikkonen had hoped to return to McLaren, only for his apparent pay demands to scupper the move, resulting in the Woking-based marque instead signing reigning world champion Jenson Button.

With no other competitive drive on the horizon, Raikkonen's quest for new challenges means he will compete in 12 of the 13 rounds of the 2010 WRC, the only omission being New Zealand.

The Finn will drive for the Citroen Junior Team, joining reigning Junior WRC champion Sebastien Ogier in the Red Bull-backed squad.

"I always wanted to compete in rally, especially in the World Rally Championship at some point in my career," said Raikkonen, who this year impressed on his rally debut in a WRC event in Finland driving an S2000 Abarth.

"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.

"I am really looking forward to testing the car and taking the start of the first rally."

Raikkonen has signed a one-year contract, leaving the door open for a return to F1 in 2011 providing he can claim a competitive drive, adding: "We will see how it goes for the future."

Raikkonen joins Citroen's burgeoning stable of drivers that also includes factory stars in six-times world champion Sebastien Loeb and Dani Sordo.

Delighted team boss Olivier Quesnel remarked: "We will continue to count on Sebastien and Dani to defend our world titles in 2010.

"We will also be prolonging our association with Sebastien Ogier who showed outstanding potential this year.

"Last but not least, it is with immense joy that we welcome Kimi Raikkonen to our ranks. We are very proud he has chosen Citroen."