CATALUNYA CHALLENGE FOR ATKINSON Australian Chris Atkinson will this weekend head to Catalunya in Spain to contest Rallye de Catalunya, the penultimate round of the 2005 FIA World Rally Championship, with the Subaru World Rally Team. With the...
CATALUNYA CHALLENGE FOR ATKINSON
Australian Chris Atkinson will this weekend head to Catalunya in Spain to contest Rallye de Catalunya, the penultimate round of the 2005 FIA World Rally Championship, with the Subaru World Rally Team.
With the event following on from last week's Rallye de France held in Corsica it will be the first time Atkinson and his West Australian co-driver Glenn Macneall have competed in "back to back" events aboard a WRC-specification Subaru Impreza. It is also the first time they have competed in successive events on tarmac.
Although Spain and Corsica are both sealed-surface events, the two are very different in character. While Corsica is twisty and narrow, the roads in Spain are much wider, faster and more flowing. Catalunya is likely to be the fastest asphalt event of the season. The majority of the Spanish asphalt is newer and smoother than the more abrasive Corsican surface and this event is the closest the WRC gets to a race track rally.
Buoyed in confidence from his improvement in only his second tarmac rally last weekend Atkinson will this weekend be aiming for a solid result and furthering his experience on an unfamiliar surface.
"Despite having some problems last week in Corsica we learnt a lot over the weekend and I am really looking forward to putting that experience back into practice in Catalunya," said Atkinson.
"Catalunya will be another new event for me, and another opportunity to learn more about the car and tyres in some unfamiliar conditions. From what I know of the event, we're going to be facing some very different stage conditions to the ones we experienced in Corsica. They're a lot quicker and we'll be taking a lot more cuts, but I think we learned some useful things last week that will help us get off to a good start."
After being based on the Costa Brava for several years, Rallye de Catalunya has moved its home to the Tarrangona region for this year's 41st running of the event. Only a handful of the stages to be contested this year were used in previous years and the majority of crews will be facing an entire new rally when they take to the stages this weekend.
"With the rally using a new route this year it will certainly benefit me because I won't be the only one that is learning how to tackle the roads, most of the other drivers will also be in the same boat," said Atkinson.
"I am confident that if we can continue our learning at a similar rate to what we have over our first two tarmac rally's that we will achieve a solid result this weekend."
Last year's winner Markko Martin will not be competing following the tragedy at this year's Wales Rally GB in which his co-driver, Michael Park, was killed. As was the case in Corsica Martin will be replaced in the Peugeot team by Nicolas Bernardi.
Dual World Champion and dominant victor in Rallye de France last weekend Sebastien Loeb will lead the field away when the first leg begins on Friday morning at 8:28am local time.
The final round of the WRC is Telstra Rally Australia to be contested in Western Australia on November 10 -13. During his debut in this event last year Atkinson finished an amazing fifth outright aboard a Group N (production) specification Subaru Impreza.