ATKINSON SCORES FIRST POINTS IN WRC CAMPAIGN Australian Chris Atkinson has finished an exceptional seventh position in only his third event aboard a WRC-class car during the Propecia Rally New Zealand this weekend. The result earned Atkinson...
ATKINSON SCORES FIRST POINTS IN WRC CAMPAIGN
Australian Chris Atkinson has finished an exceptional seventh position in only his third event aboard a WRC-class car during the Propecia Rally New Zealand this weekend.
The result earned Atkinson his first points in the Championship for the team and in the process continues to reward the faith placed in the Australian by the Subaru World Rally Team at the end of last year.
It is the second time that Atkinson has recorded points in the World Drivers Championship. He gained the first points in his career after finishing fifth in the final round of last year, Telstra Rally Australia, aboard a Group N spec car.
Atkinson was outstanding on the opening day in New Zealand setting the fastest stage time on two of the eight stages held on the North Island to be in fifth position at the end of leg one.
During the second day of competition Atkinson's pace was hampered by rapid tyre wear and began today's final day of competition in seventh position.
Despite not feeling completely at home aboard his Subaru Impreza WRC2005 throughout today's final four stages held south of Auckland Atkinson maintained his position to cross the line seventh.
Atkinson was pleased with the speed shown early in the weekend and finishing the event inside the points.
"We have achieved two more goals in our careers this weekend, to win a stage in the WRC and also score Championship points in our WRC campaign," said Atkinson.
"We did set some good times this weekend, and that's encouraging, the pace is there, but I need more time in the car to go fast all the time.
"Throughout the weekend we've certainly learned a lot about the set-up of the car. Some things worked well, others not so well. I spent most of my time today trying to figure out how we could improve things. I wasn't able to push at all and we were just cruising for most of the day.
"The car was pretty difficult to drive, I locked the diff's in the last two stages which helped a bit but it (the car) was still not the best so we focused on consolidating our position and get some points.
"I said before the event that if you are confident in the set up of your car then the pace will be good, unfortunately over the past two days I haven't felt that comfortable in the car.
"Petter has done a great job to get third and maintain his position at the top of the Championship.
"I'm looking forward to Sardinia which should really suit the Subaru. I think the team will do some testing between rounds and with Petter winning there last year I am confident of another good result there this year."
Defending World Champion Sebastien Loeb won the event was won by followed by Marcus Gronholm with Atkinson's Subaru team-mate Petter Solberg in third
By virtue of his third position Solberg maintains his lead in the World Drivers Championship on 26 points. Loeb is one point behind in second ahead of Markko Martin.
The next round of the Championship is Supermag Rally Italia Sardinia to be held from April 29 -- May 1.