Queensland rally driver Chris Atkinson overcome adversity on route to victory in round five of the Globalstar Australian Rally Championship held on the New South Wales central coast over the weekend.
The victory was his third from the previous four events, in the process he also became the first driver to win both heats of a round this year.
Atkinson, 24, has been setting the Australian rally scene alight this year with his brother and co-driver Ben aboard their Prodrive built Subaru WRX Sti won the opening heat yesterday by 2.9 seconds with today's victory by 6.8 seconds sealing the round.
By setting the most number of fastest stage times for the fourth consecutive event Atkinson added the maximum 41 points to his Championship tally to now be within six points of Championship leader, Cody Crocker.
His opening heat win didn't come without drama with Atkinson having to make running repairs on his Subaru's electrical wiring when he was enduring problems with his centre differential.
After opening a 19-second lead during the opening few stages Atkinson began to endure the electrical problem that had the car revert to rear wheel drive only.
"The car was very ugly to drive, we had a spin costing us some time and also nearly running off the road on several times when the car didn't pull up in time," said Atkinson.
On the final two stages of the day Atkinson pushed to the limit to hold on for a narrow heat victory.
While Atkinson was outpaced by Scott Pedder during the early stages today's final stage he remained composed and focused on the job at hand.
The pair matched times throughout the day with Atkinson taking the lead two stages from home when Pedder was forced to retire with suspension problems.
Atkinson put the pressure on his chasing rivals, who were now led by opening heat runner up, Juha Kangas by setting the fastest stage time on the penultimate stage of the event to open a 16.7 second lead.
Knowing the gap he had built Atkinson "eased off a little" through the final stage with Kangas closing in but unable to snare the victory from Atkinson's grasp.
"I don't know whether I am excited or relieved, but no mater what it is the feeling is good" said Atkinson.
"It wasn't an easy weekend, the competition is very high in this Championship. You have really got to push to the limit on every stage.
"With so little between all of us in the running for the title it makes you stress a little.
"There is so little separating the top three now Melbourne will be an intense event, before that though I have to focus on Japan next weekend."
Atkinson climbs aboard another Qantas flight of Sydney this evening to Japan where he will compete in the next round of the Asia Pacific Championship later this week before continuing to London where with Ben the pair will complete the reconnaissance for the Wales Great Britain round of the World Championship.
The final round of the Globalstar Australian Rally Championship will be held in Victoria on October 1-3.
<pre> Premier State Rally Results -- Top Ten
Round 5 Globalstar Australian Rally Championship 1. Chris Atkinson Subaru 41 points 2. Juha Kangas Mitsubishi 32 3. Simon Evans Toyota 28 4. Cody Crocker Subaru 24 5. Neal Bates Toyota 20
Globalstar Australian Rally Championship -- Top Ten after 5 of 6 rounds 1. Cody Crocker Subaru 132 points 2. Chris Atkinson Subaru 126 3. Juha Kangas Mitsubishi 124 4. Simon Evans Toyota 111 5. Dean Herridge Subaru 90 5. Neal Bates Toyota 90 7. Ed Orynski Mitsubishi 82 8. Scott Pedder Mitsubishi 70 9. Brad Goldsbrough Subaru 28 10. Mark Thompson Mitsubishi 16