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Atkinson sixth in season final in Wales


Subaru rally driver, Chris Atkinson, has produced a strong performance on the final day of Wales Rally GB to finish in sixth place.

Marcus Gronholm took the honours by one minute 35.5 seconds from Manfred Stohl. Subaru World Rally Team driver Petter Solberg was third, a further 19.5 seconds back, after he charged home setting the fastest time on three of the final four stages.

Atkinson also had an impressive final day, finishing fourth, third, fifth and fourth across stages 14 to 17 to finish just 7.6 seconds behind Xavier Pons in fifth.

The third and final leg comprised two runs through Brechfa and Trawscoed, although this year the drivers tackled the stages in the opposite direction compared to 2005.

The day started with heavy rain and strong winds as a storm passed over south Wales. While the weather improved during the day, the stages remained slippery and muddy.

Atkinson and co-driver Glenn Macneall set out determined on the final day of the 2006 championship determined to stay in the points after an electrical glitch on the opening day had cost them over one minute and any chance of a podium finish.

"We had a steady run through this morning's two stages and consolidated sixth place, which was the main objective for today," Atkinson said.

"The result isn't ideal, but it has been a really tough event and our aim was to get to the end of the rally and that's what we've done."

"A points finish is a good way to end a tough year and now we can turn our attentions to making the car strong for the start of the 2007 season. The team has been working incredibly hard and next year we want to reward them with wins."

Subaru World Rally Team managing director, Richard Taylor, saw some positive signs come from the final rally of the season.

"We're delighted to have one car on the podium and Chris was a little unlucky not to finish higher than sixth. The pace we showed on the stages this weekend bodes well for our competitiveness next year and we're greatly looking forward to the start of the new season in Monte Carlo in January."

Sebastien Loeb took the 2006 World Rally Championship with 112 points, one clear of Marcus Gronholm on 111, with Mikko Hirvonen third on 65. Solberg finished sixth with 40 points while Atkinson tied on equal ninth Toni Gardemeister on 20 points.

In his debut year in 2005, Atkinson finished 12th with 13 points.

The 2007 season begins with Rallye Monte Carlo on January 18-21.

Final Results - Wales Rally GB

1, GRÖNHOLM, Ford, 03:20:24.8,

2, STOHL, Peugeot, 03:22:00.3, +01:35.5

3, SOLBERG, Subaru, 03:22:20.0, +01:55.2

4, LATVALA, Ford, 03:23:01.9, +02:37.1

5, PONS, Citroën, 03:23:44.7, +03:19.9

6, ATKINSON, Subaru, 03:23:52.3, +03:27.5

7, SORDO, Citroën, 03:24:33.1, +04:08.3

8, DUVAL, Skoda, 03:24:47.4, +04:22.6

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