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Atkinson eighth in Germany and pumped for Finland

 

Subaru rally driver, Chris Atkinson, has produced an outstanding drive on the tough tarmac roads of Rally Deutschland to finish in eighth place outright.

Subaru rally driver, Chris Atkinson, has produced an outstanding drive on the tough tarmac roads of Rally Deutschland to finish in eighth place outright.

The result also scored the Australian one World Championship point, bringing his season tally to nine and leaving him in equal eleventh place on the points table.

The event was won by Sebastien Loeb, 33.8 seconds clear of Daniel Sordo with Markus Gronholm third, two minutes 19.8 seconds behind the leader.

Despite limited experience at the specialist asphalt rally, Atkinson drove swiftly all weekend to be consistently placed in the top ten, although it was only after the final stage was finished that he moved into eighth place.

Mikko Hirvonen was forced to stop on the motorway to parc ferme with a broken alternator, causing him to incur a five minute penalty which dropped him to ninth overall and behind Atkinson.

Still, it was an enormously impressive drive by the young Queenslander, who is only learning his trade on tarmac and who came to Germany driving a 2005 version Impreza WRC without the advantage of specific testing for this event.

Next week the World Championship returns to gravel in Finland, and Atkinson is back with a full factory drive with the Subaru World Rally Team behind the wheel of the latest Impreza WRC2006.

While Atkinson was delighted to finish among the points in Germany, his enthusiasm for the next two events, in Finland and Japan, is obvious.

"We came here hoping to get in the points, and we got there in the end," Atkinson said.

"The first stage today was quite good for us, although the brakes didn't feel so good on the second and caused us to have a small spin. As we weren't in a position to fight for any more places, we took it fairly steadily over the final two."

"While generally this has been a useful rally for us I'm really looking forward to getting back in a 2006 model Impreza for Finland."

"We've done good testing for that event and we believe we've made a good step forward with the car."

"The testing specifically for an event is a big advantage. You can drive hard, fully committed. You know exactly where you are with the car and can come straight out of the box fast."

"We are definitely targeting a top five in Finland."

Fellow Subaru driver, Stephane Sarrazin, had his rally come to a premature end following an accident on the first stage of the final Leg.

Crews negotiated four stages, one of which was repeated, and a total of 68.19 competitive kilometres today. The fast, flowing stages were located in the Saarland region south east of the host city.

Less than a week after Germany, the World Rally Championship finds itself in Finland: home to the most famous rally of them all. This event has been nicknamed 'the Finnish Grand Prix', because it is where the cars go faster and fly higher than anywhere else, thanks to Finland's huge rollercoaster crests, which launch the cars into the air at maximum speed. The event has traditionally been dominated by local specialists, and it is the one rally that every driver wants to win.
Ian Chesterman


Auto Trader New Zealand