ATKINSON SIXTH AFTER LEG ONE IN WALES Australian Chris Atkinson has made an impressive start the Wales Rally GB, round 12 of the World Rally Championship, to be sixth after the opening day of competition in the forests near Cardiff in the UK ...
ATKINSON SIXTH AFTER LEG ONE IN WALES
Australian Chris Atkinson has made an impressive start the Wales Rally GB, round 12 of the World Rally Championship, to be sixth after the opening day of competition in the forests near Cardiff in the UK today.
Atkinson began the day in a fast paced fashion by setting the fifth fastest time in the opening stage of the event. The young Queenslander and his West Australian co-driver Glenn Macneall continued this pace throughout the six stages contested during the first day of their maiden Wales Rally GB with the Subaru World Rally Team to match times set by many of their more experienced rivals.
"The plan was to come out and have a strong start to the event without taking too many risks, I am pleased with the times that we put in despite the fact that we weren't pushing too hard," said Atkinson.
"After the stages being pretty wet this morning they were dry this afternoon, with the exception of some tricky parts where trees continually kept the road in shadows which kept you on your toes.
"We haven't been doing anything silly and have simply been running at a solid pace, everything seems to be working really well.
"Overall it was a good day for us, the Subaru ran well in the tricky conditions. We have a lot of competitive guys around us so we will try and keep them there tomorrow."
There will be over 100 competitive kilometres in tomorrow's second leg, including the first ever indoor stage of the WRC indoors when the crews tackle the 1.1km super special stage inside Cardiff's Millennium Stadium, host of the 2005 FA Cup Final.
"While there is only 100 kilometres tomorrow the stages are pretty tricky and several drivers got caught out last year by them, so it will be interesting," said Atkinson.
"Once again I will be running at my own pace and concentrating on not taking too many risks and gaining the experience of competing in these conditions for the first time.
"The super special stage inside the Millennium Stadium should be fun, the stage is like several figure eight circuits, hopefully there will be a big crowd and lost of atmosphere."
Defending World Champion and Championship leader Sebastien Loeb leads the event by 19.9 seconds over Atkinson's Subaru team-mate Petter Solberg who is two seconds clear of Harri Rovanpera. Finnish driver Marcus Gronholm led after the opening stage but brake problems forced him to lose over a minute, he recovered over the final half of the day to finish the opening leg in fourth.
In the corresponding round last year the top six drivers were separated by over three minutes after the opening leg, this year Atkinson is sixth and just over a minute behind Loeb.
An interested spectator in the Subaru service area in Wales today was Australian Formula One driver Mark Webber.
The time in Wales is nine hours behind AEST.