NO TURKISH DELIGHT ON DAY ONE FOR ATKINSON Entering this weekend's round of the World Rally Championship in Turkey Subaru's Chris Atkinson was confident that he could pick up the speed and gain a good result in one of the toughest events on the...
NO TURKISH DELIGHT ON DAY ONE FOR ATKINSON
Entering this weekend's round of the World Rally Championship in Turkey Subaru's Chris Atkinson was confident that he could pick up the speed and gain a good result in one of the toughest events on the calendar.
After running at a conservative pace during the opening stage of the event to set the seventh fastest time Atkinson picked up the tempo during the second 11.95km stage to be a little over two seconds behind the fastest time with less than two kilometres remaining in the stage.
Atkinson's good run in the stage was halted 500 metres fron the finish when he slid wide on a fast right hand bend heading through a ditch before ending up on a bank and causing severe damage the left rear suspension on his Subaru Impreza.
Despite the damage he was able to limp through the remaining section of the stage and record a time.
Immediately after the finish of the stage, Atkinson and his co-driver Glenn Macneall were forced to remove the wheel and other damaged components before beginning the journey back to the service area on three wheels - with Macneall hanging out of his window as a counterbalance.
Although the pair completed the 71km drive and got the car back to the service area, technicians discovered that the fuel tank had been damaged in the transport back to service. As it was not possible to change the fuel tank in the 30-minutes available they were forced to retire from the Leg.
"The first stage wasn't great, I was just easing myself into the event and taking it a little bit steady. For the second stage, I made a small adjustment to the differential that made the car much better to drive," said Atkinson.
"In the second stage everything was going very well until just before the finish, when I slid wide on a fast right-hander and hit some rocks on the outside of the road. We went through a ditch, before ending up on a bank.
"We managed to get back to service, albeit on only three wheels and Glenn hanging out the window, but only then did we discover that the car was leaking fuel and, mid way through a leg, there's not a lot you can do about that.
"It's another disappointing incident, but we should be able to replace the fuel tank this afternoon and I'm looking forward to getting out on the stages again tomorrow."
Atkinson will restart tomorrow under the SupeRALLY regulations with the aim of setting a string of good stage times throughout the remaining two days.
After winning the past three events Championship Leader Sebastien Loeb has continued his good form to lead the way after the opening Leg. The Frenchman has set the fastest time across seven of the opening eight competitive stages.
Italian Gigi Galli has been a consistent front runner throughout the opening leg to be second overall. Galli was the only driver to head Loeb throughout the day taking over the lead momentarily after the third competitive stage. Loeb however regained the lead on the very next stage and led for the remainder of the day.
Marcus Gronholm is in third ahead of Atkinson's Subaru team-mate Petter Solberg who is followed by two-time World Champion Carlos Sainz who is making his return to the driver's seat this weekend in a one-off drive with Citroen.
Tomorrow's second leg consists of seven stages across 150 competitive kilometres with the first car beginning the first stage at 7:33am local time (2:33pm AEST).