STEADY APPROACH FOR ATKINSON IN CATALUNYA LEG ONE Subaru's Chris Atkinson has displayed a steady and mature approach towards the unfamiliar tarmac roads during the opening leg of Rallye Catalunya, the penultimate round of the World Rally ...
STEADY APPROACH FOR ATKINSON IN CATALUNYA LEG ONE
Subaru's Chris Atkinson has displayed a steady and mature approach towards the unfamiliar tarmac roads during the opening leg of Rallye Catalunya, the penultimate round of the World Rally Championship, in Spain today.
Atkinson and West Australian co-driver Glenn Macneall continually improved their pace on the unfamiliar tarmac surface throughout the day to finish the opening leg 15th.
The rally is only Atkinson's third on tarmac and the Spanish event is unlike the two he has previously contested with the fast flowing asphalt roads becoming gravel strewn as drivers cut corners at every opportunity to gain extra tenths of seconds over their opposition.
"The overall result is not what we are here for, it is simply to show our improvement on a surface we have very limited experience on, we made steps forward on every stage today and hopefully we can continue that tomorrow," said Atkinson.
"We not taking any risks and we know that we are being cautious in a lot of places which is no doubt costing us time but I would rather be cautious and get the experience than push too hard and end up watching from the sidelines for the rest of the day.
"I think we made the wrong tyre choice for the conditions this morning with a hard slick tyre on a wet road which was quite difficult to drive on so I tippy toed through and made sure I got to the end of the stages.
"It is not suprising to me that we are so far down the leader board compared to where we are used to being in the gravel events but once again this event is all about learning for us whereas the next round in Australia will be a different story on a more familiar surface."
Dual World Champion Sebastien Loeb is again showing his tarmac dominance holding a 53 second lead over Citroen team-mate Francois Duval with Marcus Gronholm third.
Atkinson's Subaru team-mates Petter Solberg and Stephane Sarrazin both experienced problems with Solberg hitting a bank on stage three of the event damaging the front and rear-right of his Subaru Impreza and was forced to retire from the leg. Sarrazin wasn't so fortunate after running wide on the final stage of the day bouncing off the road and the car's hot exhaust ignited some dry grass and bushes and the car was quickly engulfed ending his rally. Both crews were uninjured in the accidents.
Rallye Catalunya continues tomorrow with the second leg with 12 stages to be contested across 135 competitive kilometres in the Tarragona region of Spain. The first stage of the day will begin at 8:38am local time.
The time in Spain is eight hours behind AEST.