After winning two stages in yesterday's opening leg Subaru's Chris Atkinson remains inside the top ten with one day remaining in the Propecia Rally New Zealand. Atkinson is currently in seventh position under three minutes behind pacesetter ...
After winning two stages in yesterday's opening leg Subaru's Chris Atkinson remains inside the top ten with one day remaining in the Propecia Rally New Zealand.
Atkinson is currently in seventh position under three minutes behind pacesetter Sebastien Loeb who is followed by Marcus Gronholm with Atkinson's Subaru team-mate Petter Solberg in third.
Tyre's were the talking point of the day with many drivers enduring a lack of traction due to the rapid wear, in particular during the final two forest stages this afternoon. Atkinson was one such driver. He finished the day with a right front tyre that was worn down to the canvas.
In an effort to extract find some extra speed this morning Atkinson and his Subaru team changed the anit-roll bar settings on his Subaru Impreza overnight. Unfortunately for Atkinson the changes made the car less stable to drive costing him time during today's opening three stages.
"We changed the set up last night to adapt it more for today's style of roads but we seem to have gone the wrong way which was making the car very difficult to drive," said Atkinson.
"It is probably the most uncomfortable I have felt in the car all year, I was having three goes at every corner to get onto the right line. It is all about confidence in the car and I really didn't have confidence in the car.
Despite his performance in the afternoon being hampered by the rapid tyre wear Atkinson remained inside the top ten.
"The weather is reasonable warm for what you normally expect here in New Zealand which has made tyre wear a real issue this afternoon," said Atkinson.
"I'm not disappointed that we are not as quick as what we were yesterday. This is only our third event in the World Championship and at the level of experience we have you can't expect that to be right on the pace with every stage.
"The tyres began to wear rapidly on first stage this afternoon and by the end of the final stage there was no tread left at all.
"Our focus is now on tomorrow and getting through the event to get the experience, an overall result isn't the main objective. For us it is all about getting the experience.
"Petter is doing a great job for the team and showing good pace to be in third, but he too is suffering from severe tyre wear.
"The guys at the front are battling for a World Championship and we are not going to push ourselves too hard and get involved in that, we are at a different level in our career.
"I am confident that we can improve the set up of our car to maintain our position our pace tomorrow."
Loeb leads the field into tonight's pair of stages around the Manukau Super Special Stage. Gronholm is 53.8 seconds in arrears followed by Solberg. Atkinson is in seventh position, under three minutes from the lead and less than 30 seconds behind fifth placed Toni Gardemeister.
There will be four stages held tomorrow across 86.97 competitive kilometres, the first stage begins at 9:03am local time.
Antony Warmbold will be first driver to take to the start line tomorrow with Atkinson the seventh car on the road.