WRC

Rally Mexico: Chris Atkinson preview

STEADY BUT CONFIDENT APPROACH FOR ATKINSON IN MEXICO On the eve of his second FIA World Rally Championship event with the Subaru World Rally team Chris Atkinson's confidence has been given a boost following an impressive performance during ...

STEADY BUT CONFIDENT APPROACH FOR ATKINSON IN MEXICO

On the eve of his second FIA World Rally Championship event with the Subaru World Rally team Chris Atkinson's confidence has been given a boost following an impressive performance during today's final shakedown for this weekend's Corona Rally Mexico.

While he set one of the fastest times during the shakedown Atkinson to give his confidence an extra boost the 25-year-old is maintaining his mature and steady approach to the event.

"To us it is still all about learning, it is our first time on gravel in a WRC car and the first time in the 2005 spec Subaru, so we will be taking a steady approach to the event with the aim of improving with every day," said Atkinson.

"We started off a little bit slowly today, working with my engineers we improved the new car and set it up for my driving style and as a consequence the times improved. We were pretty close to the front pace, so that is good news, but our main focus is getting good stage times and making it through the event to get more experience.

"It's only shakedown and doesn't mean much to me, the other drivers in the Championship have so much more experience. One good run doesn't mean a lot but obviously it is pleasing to know that the speed is there.

"Our aim is for us to end up in the points, how high I don't know but if we can keep improving it shouldn't be a bad result."

In Sweden Atkinson adapted rapidly to the snow covered roads, this weekend he will be competing on a gravel surface that he is more familiar with.

"The roads here in Mexico appear to be similar to the surfaces that I have competed on throughout China with quite a hard base and very fast, you have to be very precise in your driving. If you get off line it is going to be a big moment," said Atkinson.

"While the roads we will be competing on are very smooth in between stages it is pretty crazy and feels as though you are going through a jungle in some places, there are a lot of pot holes between the stages so you have to be fully focused even on the liason."

Atkinson and his West Australian co-driver Glenn Macneall will take to the start ramp in Guanajuato this evening (Mexico time) with the first competitive stage to be begin in Leon tomorrow morning at 8:30am (AEDST 1:30am Sat). The 2005 Corona Rally Mexico consists of three legs with 14 special stages across a total of 355.97 competitive kilomteres over Friday, Saturday and Sunday.

Leon is approximately 2000 metres above sea level with the highest point of the event 2785 metres above sea level making the event one of the toughest for driver fitness in the Championship with a lower level of oxygen in the air at higher altitudes.

"For the last three weeks we have been preparing for this event, both through our fitness training and with our dietary requirements. Since arriving here on Friday we have both been undertaking a fair bit of running and fitness to make sure we are on top our game this weekend," said Atkinson.

Entering this weekend Toni Gardemeister leads the FIA World Rally Championship on 14 points ahead of Markko Marting followed by Petter Solberg and Sebastien Loeb on 10 points.

-ar-

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Series WRC
Drivers Petter Solberg , Sébastien Loeb , Toni Gardemeister , Chris Atkinson , Markko Martin