Queensland rally driver Chris Atkinson began his campaign in the Neste Rally Finland aboard the Tommi Makinen prepared Subaru WRX Sti in stylish fashion yesterday. Atkinson was seeded ninth in Group N category and the 53rd car on the road with...
Queensland rally driver Chris Atkinson began his campaign in the Neste Rally Finland aboard the Tommi Makinen prepared Subaru WRX Sti in stylish fashion yesterday.
Atkinson was seeded ninth in Group N category and the 53rd car on the road with older brother, Ben as his co-driver for one of the world's most famous and longest running rallies.
The 24-year-old Gold Coaster made an impressive start setting the third fastest Group N time in the opening stage of the event aboard his Subaru WRX Sti supported by Telstra Rally Australia, DMS Shocks, BF Goodrich, Network Ten and Qantas.
Atkinson, the only driver to win two rounds in this year's Globalstar Australian Rally Championship, continued this pace into the next few stages setting the second fastest Group N time on stage three.
His impressive stage times had him placed fourth in Group N and 23rd outright at the end of the opening three stages.
"Realistically we aimed to try to be inside the top five for Group N and so far we are right on track," said Atkinson.
"It didn't take me long to settle in with the car and the team, it's not like I could be out of touch with the car, I think I've spent more time in a Subaru lately than I've slept,"
Disaster struck for Atkinson on the fourth stage of the day when he endured two flat tyres during the stage costing him over 10 minutes dropping him well down the order.
Further problems began for Atkinson on the following stage when an exhaust header collapsed hampering his turbo boost power.
"I haven't had a flat tyre for quite a while so to have two in one stage was very frustrating, especially when we were going so well" said Atkinson.
"The team did a great job to atleast get me back out there and will have the problem fixed, from here it is all about concentrating on setting some good stage times and getting to the end of an extremely tough event."
Despite a lack of power, Atkinson still managed to set times inside the top six of Group N on every occasion.
Marcus Gronholm leads the event outright followed by Sebastian Lindholm and Markko Martin. In Group N Italian Gianluigi Galli leads the way ahead of local driver Kaj Kuistila and Martin Stenshorne.
The Neste Rally Finland continues later today with the second of three grueling legs.
Atkinson has been assisted to compete in the World Rally Championship round at the Neste Rally Finland courtesy of the valuable support from Telstra Rally Australia, DMS shock absorbers, BF Goodrich, Network TEN and Qantas.
Telstra Rally Australia will be held 11-14 November 2004 in Perth and surrounding areas. This year is the first year that Telstra Rally Australia will be the final round of the 16 round FIA World Rally Championship.
Drummond Motor Sport shock absorbers have over twenty years background in developing suspension packages for not only the most elite International competitors but also the high performance and enthusiast market sectors.
On and off the track, around the world, BFGoodrich Tires have set the pace in tyre innovation and technology since 1870. Their range of performance, off-road, passenger, SUV and light truck tyres have carved names for themselves as the ones to beat.
Network TEN is home of motorsport in Australian television. They are the host broadcaster for the World Rally Championship, Globalstar Australian Rally Championship, Formula One World Championship, Champ Car World Series and V8 Supercar Series.
Qantas was founded in the Queensland outback in 1920. Today, Qantas is widely regarded as the world's leading long distance airline and one of the strongest brands in Australia.
The Neste Rally Finland is one of the world's longest standing rallies. This year's event begins on Friday August 6 and is based in the bustling student town of Jyvaskyla, located in the lake district area of central Finland.