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Atkinson changes luck to finish ninth in Cyprus


Subaru rally driver, Chris Atkinson, has finished the Cyprus Rally in ninth place, maintaining his overnight position across the final day.

Atkinson, who was forced to retire from Leg Two when he left the road after experiencing braking problems late Saturday, restarted the event under Super Rally rules for the final Leg.

Sebastien Loeb won the weekend, his 28th career WRC victory. Marcus Gronholm finished second, 21.2 seconds back, with Mikko Hirvonen third, five minutes 16.1 seconds behind the leader.

Fellow Subaru World Rally Team driver, Petter Solberg, finished in eighth place and scored one championship point.

Atkinson drove at a consistent pace across the morning's three special stages, but after the midday service, the afternoon became a shambles.

The new Super Special Stage in Limassol on the seafront promenade was run purely as a showcase due to concerns for spectator safety. Despite the non-competitive running, Dani Sordo misjudged the first corner from the start and ran straight on into a concrete barrier and had to be towed out from the course.

The delay caused by the accident also saw the penultimate stage deemed non-competitive and the cars were given a notional time for that stage as well. It was only the day's final stage where the time keepers were bothered for the afternoon. Atkinson was seventh fastest.

The Queenslander and his co-driver, Glenn Macneall, had endured a testing event and were relieved to finally be at the finish line.

"It's been a very tough three days," Atkinson said.

"Until we went off the road last night we were running in the top five, which is a better indicator of where we are at the moment."

"Today we drove taking no risks. Our job was to get the car to the end of the rally, not risking it for Rally Turkey."

"Still, I know I'm driving well and that is all I can focus on."

Richard Taylor, SWRT Managing Director, agreed that Atkinson and Solberg had performed exceptionally well.

"We have been realistic in our approach to this weekend and knew that, with the car we have at the moment, Cyprus was going to be a very difficult rally," Taylor said. "What we have seen over the past three days confirms that."

"The drivers have done an excellent job throughout the weekend despite the handling and it is now our job to refocus on our test and development in order to try and improve the package over the next four rallies."

The next round of the World Rally Championship is in Turkey from October 13 to 15 with the Australian round in Perth two weeks after that from October 27-29.

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