TOP TEN RECOVERY BY ATKINSON IN CYPRUS Australian Chris Atkinson has recovered from a clutch problem on the opening day of the Cyprus Rally to finish inside the top ten in Round six of the World Rally Championship over the weekend. In what ...
TOP TEN RECOVERY BY ATKINSON IN CYPRUS
Australian Chris Atkinson has recovered from a clutch problem on the opening day of the Cyprus Rally to finish inside the top ten in Round six of the World Rally Championship over the weekend.
In what turned out to be a car-killing event held on atrocious roads that easily makes the Cyprus event the toughest in the Championship Atkinson tenth place finish earned him his second top ten finish from five WRC starts with the Subaru World Rally Team.
The Gold Coaster's event got off to a steady start during the opening two stages to record the seventh fastest time before being forced out with clutch problems mid way through the opening day.
As he was unable to complete the final four stages of the opening leg Atkinson and his co-driver Glenn Macneall incurred a penalty of 20-minutes dropping them to 20th position at the end of the leg one.
After restarting under the new SUPERally regulations in the second leg Atkinson focused on furthering his experience in the tough conditions.
The 25-year-old remained composed to move up seven positions during the action packed second leg that included the retirement of his Subaru team-mate Petter Solberg due to engine problems incurred during the opening day, Francois Duval's Citroen catching fire after he hit a tree and a stage being cancelled for safety reasons.
"The temperature inside the car rose to over 40 degrees, combine that with the dust inside the cabin and the slow speeds and it is very tough out there," said Atkinson.
"As we were the second car on the road we encountered some of the worst road conditions with some very loose gravel on the rough road it was very slippery and tough.
"The roads are the worst that I have driven on in my life."
During today's final leg of the event crew were faced with 95 competitive kilometres on some of the slowest, roughest and toughest roads in the Championship.
Despite being the third car to tackle the slippery and rough roads Atkinson continued his consistent and conservative approach towards the event and closed in on tenth position by mid way through the day.
Atkinson finished each of the six stages held on the final day inside the top ten. His event was highlighted with a pair of top five stage times during the final two stages of the event.
Atkinson's tenth position earned the Subaru team two points towards the Manufacturers Championship.
"While we weren't going slow out there today, we certainly weren't going flat out. It was purely about getting to the finish," said Atkinson.
"We were in a position to earn some points towards the Manufacturers Championship for Subaru and we were focused on ensuring that we bagged the points for the team.
"Throughout today's final day we did a lot of testing with set ups for the next few events which will be held in similar rough conditions. I think we've made some useful steps ahead of Turkey and Greece. We've still got some more work to do of course, especially in the slow corners, but I'm pleased with what we've achieved here this weekend."
Sebastien Loeb dominated the event by setting the fastest time in all but four of the 18 stages held throughout the event to claim his third victory in a row and his fourth from the six events conducted in 2005.
Loeb took over the lead from Petter Solberg after the opening stage of the event and was never headed to take the victory by over four minutes from fellow Citroen driver Manfred Stohl.
Markko Martin gained the upper hand in a battle with Henning Solberg during the final few stages of the event to round out the podium.
Loeb will take an 11 point lead over Solberg and Martin into the next round of the Championship to be held in Turkey in two weeks time. Toni Gardemeister finished fifth in Cyprus to move into fourth position in the standings with 28 points just clear of Marcus Gronholm, who failed to finish in Cyprus, on 26.
The next round of the Championship will be held in Turkey beginning on June 2 with a super special stage followed by three days of competition.