x Abu Dhabi, UAETuesday 23 January 2018

Kimi Raikkonen planning Nascar debut this year

The 2007 F1 champion will make his Nascar debut this year according to media reports in Finland.

HELSINKI // Kimi Raikkonen, the 2007 Formula One world champion, will make a surprise Nascar debut this year while also competing in rallies, according to a report in Finland's Turun Sanomat newspaper.

The Finn, who took the F1 title with Ferrari, has been driving a Citroen in the World Rally Championship (WRC) since he left Formula One at the end 2009.

The paper said the 31-year-old, nicknamed "Iceman", now plans to enter some Nascar races with his ICE1 team when WRC commitments permit.

"I am excited about getting to know Nascar world. I have been following it for a long time," the paper quoted him as saying.

"I am 100 per cent sure it will be fun and challenging," he added.

The paper said Raikkonen will drive his first race in the truck series, before then moving up to other Nascar series, before the summer and talks with a manufacturer were being finalised.

The autosport.com website said Foster Gillett, whose father George was until last year a co-owner of Liverpool football club, would be a major partner of the team.

Jeff Gordon, the four-time Sprint Cup champion, welcomed the report.

"I think it would be cool and exciting," he told Reuters in a statement.

"Being a fan of Formula One racing, I've watched Kimi compete and win in that series and I think it would be great to have him racing in Nascar."

Brazilian Nelson Piquet Jr, a former Renault F1 driver who left for Nascar after triggering one of the sport's biggest controversies when he revealed he had been ordered to crash deliberately, also welcomed the news.

"I think it's great for the series to have Kimi Raikkonen decide to enter Nascar and race in the trucks, and it will be great for him to know what American racing is all about," he told Reuters.

Piquet drives a Kevin Harvick Inc. owned truck in the series.

Other prominent Formula One drivers to have competed in Nascar include Canada's 1997 world champion Jacques Villeneuve and Colombia's Juan Pablo Montoya, who is racing for Earnhardt Ganassi Racing.