ATKINSON'S WRC EDUCATION CONTINUES Australian Chris Atkinson continued to climb the steep learning curve of the transition from domestic competition into the World Rally Championship during the second leg of the Corona Rally Mexico ...
ATKINSON'S WRC EDUCATION CONTINUES
Australian Chris Atkinson continued to climb the steep learning curve of the transition from domestic competition into the World Rally Championship during the second leg of the Corona Rally Mexico today.
Unfortunately for Atkinson, today's lesson was cut short after hitting a rock.
During the opening two stages of the day Atkinson had set the fourth and fifth fastest stage times. The time set by the 25-year-old during the first 25.45km stage of the day was only 7.4 seconds behind the fastest time set by Sebastien Loeb.
After setting a good split time during the early part of the third stage of the day Atkinson hit a large rock shortly after causing damage the power steering on his Subaru Impreza WRC2005.
Atkinson drove on without the assistance of the power steering for a further six kilometres before his right front wheel hit into a hole in the road as he negotiated a slow, second gear corner, which took the wheel off and he was unable to continue.
"Coming over a jump on a fast right hand corner I caught a rock on the sump guard which damaged the steering. Obviously the car was hard to drive with no power assistance but the problem was compounded shortly after when the right front wheel dropped into a ditch and was taken off," said Atkinson.
"It put us out of the today and contention for what could have been a good result, but I am learning a lot and learning pretty fast. Of course I've made some mistakes, but it is all good experience -- even driving with no power steering will help me in the future."
Following repairs by the Subaru team, that were required to be completed within two and three-quarter hours, Atkinson and his West Australian co-driver Glenn Macneall will restart the event in tomorrow's third and final leg. They do however receive a time penalty of five minutes for each of today's remaining four stages which has dropped them to 13th position at the completion of today's second leg.
"Although we are still fine tuning the car, it was a lot better in places today, especially in the faster areas," said Atkinson.
"We won some splits in the fast sections of some stages which is very pleasing but now we have to work on improving the car, and my driving, during the slower more technical stuff.
"Tomorrow gives us the opportunity to try some more set up changes and hopefully find the bits we are missing. It also gives me the opportunity to spend more time in the car and continue learning."
Entering tomorrow's third and final leg Atkinson's Subaru team-mate Petter Solberg continues to lead the event after winning seven of the twelve stages contested. Solberg has a 29.6 second lead over Marcus Gronholm and Markko Martin with current Championship leader Toni Gardemeister is currently fourth.