While on track for his second consecutive victory in the Globalstar Australian Rally Championship Chris Atkinson had an uncharacteristic accident today forcing him out of the Subaru Safari Tasmania. After finishing a close third on the opening...
While on track for his second consecutive victory in the Globalstar Australian Rally Championship Chris Atkinson had an uncharacteristic accident today forcing him out of the Subaru Safari Tasmania.
After finishing a close third on the opening heat yesterday 24-year-old Atkinson had jumped into from sixth to third position in the Championship standings aboard his Atkinson Racing Pro-drive built Subaru WRX Sti.
In controversial circumstances the opening stage this morning was cancelled due to a timing malfunction after the leading cars had pass through the stage.
"It would've been good to count that first stage because I knew that we could get an advantage and our time was 6 seconds quicker than anyone else," commented Atkinson.
"However that's the way it is and we will now go out and try and be the fastest over the remaining stages."
Atkinson closely followed Championship leader Simon Evans during the next stage before taking over the lead during the following 11.48 kilometre stage.
While holding a slender lead into the next stage Atkinson's hopes of a back to back victory ended on an extremely slippery corner braking a lower control arm in the rear suspension when he ran off the road.
"With the competition so close you always have to push to the limit, unfortunately I pushed a little too hard on a corner that was slipperier than I thought," said Atkinson.
"I ran wide and hit a tree stump sending the car airborne and into a 360 degree spin before landing back on its wheels.
"We managed to continue of for a couple of hundred metres but the rear suspension was broken forcing us out."
The Atkinson pair were not injured in the accident.
Shortly after they vacated their stricken Subaru Evans ran off the road crashing out of the event on the same corner.
"Just after we stopped we saw Simon (Evans) hit the stump before the one that I hit spearing him off the road," said Atkinson.
Evans has been airlifted to Royal Hobart Hospital after the heavy accident and is reported to have suffered leg injuries but is in a stable condition. His wife and co-driver Sue was uninjured in the accident.
With Evans required to be airlifted to hospital the stage was cancelled.
The demise of Atkinson and Evans elevated opening heat winner Juha Kangas into the lead narrowly ahead of Atkinson's Subaru stablemate Cody Crocker.
Kangas and Crocker staged a titanic battle for the remainder of the event with Kangas taking the overall honours.
The Subaru Safari Tasmania was the first event that Atkinson has been the number one seed.
"Being number one seed was one that I really enjoyed here in Tasmania, I'm not sure some of the other rallies will be as good to be the first car on the road in," said Atkinson
"I didn't make any change to the way I drove to when I wasn't the first car on the road, it just meant that I was waiting to hear at the end of the stage to hear what times the other guys had done rather than me finding out what time they had done."
Despite missing the final four stages due to their retirement Atkinson won the most stages setting the fastest time over five stages.
With Evans not scoring any points today Crocker now takes over the Championship lead on 82 points ahead of Evans (77) followed by Herridge (64), Kangas (62) and Atkinson (51).
Subaru Safari Tasmania
Heat One Results (Top 10)
1. Juha Kangas (Mitsubishi) 56:17.4
2. Cody Crocker (Subaru) +2.9
3. Chris Atkinson (Subaru) +6.3
4. Simon Evans (Toyota) +17.8
5. Dean Herridge (Subaru) +42.2
6. Neal Bates (Toyota) +1:25.3
7. Ed Ordynski (Mitsubishi) +1:34.7
8. Brad Goldsbrough (Subaru) +2:26.4
9. Ben Barker (Toyota) +2:29.3
10. Martin Lintott (Mitsubishi) +3:04.9
Heat Two Results (Top 10)
1. Juha Kangas (Mitsubishi)