After a trouble-free run on today's final Leg of the Cyprus Rally, Subaru's Chris Atkinson moved three places up the leaderboard to achieve a top-ten finish. Contesting the event for the first time, Atkinson's primary objective for the rally was...
After a trouble-free run on today's final Leg of the Cyprus Rally, Subaru's Chris Atkinson moved three places up the leaderboard to achieve a top-ten finish. Contesting the event for the first time, Atkinson's primary objective for the rally was to gain experience of the car in the specialist conditions. On today's final six stages, the Australian was also able to experiment with the set-up of his Impreza WRC2005 in preparation for the forthcoming rough gravel events in Turkey and Greece.
SS13 0718hrs Vavatsinia - Mandra Kambiou 1 (25.24km)
Commencing Leg three with an overall lead of more than three
minutes, Sebastien Loeb's focus was on maintaining concentration and
avoiding trouble on the final six stages. Negotiating the narrow,
tree-lined route from Vavatsinia, he was fastest to take his twelfth
stage win. Citroen privateer Manfred Stohl was second fastest and Markko
Martin third. Starting the stage 19.5 seconds behind Henning Solberg's
overall third-place, Martin made a bid to snatch the final podium
position and, by the finish, he'd reduced the gap to 7.4 seconds. Ford
privateer Anthony Warmbold retired his Focus on the road section to the
start of the stage with low oil pressure. He had been in 10th position
overall. Running third on the road, Subaru's Chris Atkinson was seventh.
Once the stage was complete, crews drove a 7.28km road section to the
start of SS14.
Fastest Stage Time: Loeb (Citroen) 23:31.3
SS14 0816hrs Macheras - Agioi Vavatsinias 1 (12.94km)
Large rocks lined the opening 2km of the narrow stage from Macheras, making neat driving imperative. As the air temperature increased to 24 Xsara to take the win, while Martin was second as he continued to increase the pressure on Henning Solberg in third. Setting the third-quickest time through the stage, Solberg lost more time to Martin and, at the finish, just 1.9 seconds separated the pair with 57.16km remaining. Chris Atkinson was sixth fastest to move up into tenth position overall. Skoda drivers Janne Tuohino and Armin Schwarz were off the pace, finishing 14th and 15th respectively, while Gilles Panizzi's Lancer suffered a front-right puncture.
Fastest Stage Time: Loeb (Citroen) 11:33.8
SS15 0904hrs Kellaki - Foinikaria 1 (9.49km)
After holding third position since the final stage of Leg one, there was disappointment for Henning Solberg in SS15 when his Focus' engine stalled several times and he dropped 17 seconds. Having been hot on the Norwegian's heels for the last two stages, Markko Martin swapped places on the leaderboard and moved ahead of Henning by 13 seconds and into third place. Experimenting with different suspension set-ups aboard his Subaru Impreza WRC2005, Chris Atkinson suffered a spin 2km from the start and was ninth fastest. Loeb took the stage win and extended his lead to 3 minutes 51.6 seconds overall. After the test was complete, crews returned to Limassol for a 30-minute service.
Fastest Stage Time: Loeb (Citroen) 8:26.5
SS16 1152hrs Vavatsinia - Mandra Kambiou 2 (25.24km)
With his car fully serviced, Henning Solberg pushed hard on the repeated Vavatsinia stage as he attempted to claw back the time lost to Martin during the previous test. Completing the dusty stage 8.6 seconds quicker than his rival, the Norwegian's effort moved him to within striking distance of the final podium position. But, at the finish, 5.1 seconds still remained between the pair. Points-nominated Ford driver Toni Gardemeister was fastest, with Solberg second and Loeb third. Subaru's Chris Atkinson was seventh.
Fastest Stage Time: Gardemeister (Ford) 23:17.7
SS17 1250hrs Macheras - Agioi Vavatsinias 2 (12.94km)
As 44 competitors had previously passed through the test from Macheras, conditions were more rutted for its repeat. As the air temperature hit 33 narrow uphill section followed by the fast descent to the finish. Seemingly secure in second place (potentially his best ever WRC result) and cushioned by a 48.1 second lead over third-placed Martin, privateer Manfred Stohl completed the test in the fourth fastest time. Martin was quickest to consolidate overall third, with Loeb second fastest and Gardemeister third. Skoda driver Janne Tuohino reported he was unhappy with the set-up of his car and lost 30 seconds to the leaders, which dropped him to ninth overall.
Fastest Stage Time: Martin (Peugeot) 11:19.3
SS18 1338hrs Kellaki - Foinikaria 2 (9.49km)
After an incident filled event, the final stage of the 2005 Cyprus Rally was relatively trouble-free. Sebastien Loeb cruised through the stage to take his fourth WRC win of the year, Manfred Stohl claimed second - his best ever WRC finish, while Markko Martin was third. Fourth placed Henning Solberg claimed a personal record too, improving on the fifth place he achieved in Sweden earlier this year. Chris Atkinson was fifth fastest through the stage and finished tenth overall to claim two manufacturer points for Subaru.
Fastest Stage Time: Gardemeister (Ford) 8:30.5
David Lapworth, Subaru World Rally Team Principal: "Clearly it's disappointing to lose ground to Sebastien Loeb in the Championship, especially on an event where we had the potential to be very strong. From Petter's point of view, the only consolation is that we still have confidence in our potential in these conditions and there's no reason why we can't redress the balance in Turkey and Greece. For Chris this event was another important part of his learning process. He's done very well and gained a lot of invaluable experience. The work he's done here will give him a lot of confidence for the forthcoming rough events.
Chris Atkinson: Media Bulletin - Cyprus Rally - Leg 3The event didn't get off to the best start for us, but in fact, once the competitive pressure lifted, we had a great opportunity to experiment with the car and learn more about the conditions. We ran at a consistent and safe pace and I think we've made some useful steps ahead of Greece and Turkey. 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.
News From Pirelli
Fiore Brivio, Pirelli Tyres Rally Manager: This rally has been very unlucky for all of us, but looking on the positive side, we have managed to gain a lot of information that will be useful for the similar surfaces that we will encounter in Turkey and Greece. The tyre performance has been good throughout the weekend and we are looking forward to the remaining rough gravel events where we know we are always strong.