ATKINSON COMPLETES TURKEY TEST Australian Chris Atkinson has continued to build on his experience in the World Rally Championship by setting an impressive and consistent pace aboard his Subaru Impreza in the Rally of Turkey over the...
ATKINSON COMPLETES TURKEY TEST
Australian Chris Atkinson has continued to build on his experience in the World Rally Championship by setting an impressive and consistent pace aboard his Subaru Impreza in the Rally of Turkey over the weekend.
An opening leg incident that resulted in an early finish to the day was the only downside to another impressive display of consistency, maturity and talent by Atkinson and his co-driver Glenn Macneall.
Atkinson slid wide on a fast right handed bend 500 metres prior to the end of the second stage of the event and headed through a ditch before ending up on a bank and hitting large boulder causing severe damage the left rear suspension on his Subaru Impreza.
Showing true determination to continue Atkinson completed the 71km journey back to the service area on three wheels - with Macneall hanging out of his window as a counterbalance. Despite making it back to service, technicians discovered that the fuel tank had been damaged in the transport section and Atkinson was forced out of the leg.
"In the second stage everything was going very well until just before the finish, when I slid wide on a fast right-hander and hit some rocks on the outside of the road. We went through a ditch, before ending up on a bank," said Atkinson
"We managed to get back to service, albeit on only three wheels and Glenn hanging out the window, but only then did we discover that the car was leaking fuel and, mid way through a leg, there's not a lot you could have done about that so we were forced to take the time penalties and restart in the second leg under the supeRALLY rules.
Due to missing the final six stages of the opening leg Atkinson received 30-minutes of penalties, effectively dismissing any opportunity of finishing high up the order.
"I think we could have run at a good pace all weekend, but instead I've had to treat this rally as a test after a silly mistake. But, on the positive side, it's good to get more experience of the car on the stages," said Atkinson.
Atkinson's task of achieving good stage times was made even harder when he was the first car to contest the stages over the final two days due to his low overall position.
Despite being a pioneer throughout the stages in the ever changing conditions Atkinson set some impressive stage times, including a third fastest time on the 16.45km Chimera stage during the second leg. His time on this stage was a mere half a second behind his Subaru team-mate Petter Solberg.
"It was very difficult to judge the conditions a lot of the time because the weather was changing so much, sometimes it was in your favour, sometimes it wasn't," said Atkinson.
"The roads throughout the weekend were a lot smoother than what we experienced in Cyprus but the biggest problem was the huge muddy patches and water splashes. You had to always be looking out for the changing conditions.
"I think our times were quite good considering road position as a lot of the time we were sweeping the roads for the other competitors so overall we are quite happy with the final two days and will learn from the mistake on the opening day."
Frenchman Sebastien Loeb won his fourth event in a row ahead of Solberg who held off a gallant fight from Marcus Gronholm to claim the runner up position. In his return to the driver's seat Carlos Sainz finished fourth ahead of Markko Martin.
After being classified 50th at the end of the opening leg Atkinson climbed up the order to finish the event in 24th, a little over 35 minutes behind Loeb.
As a virtue of his victory Loeb extend his lead in the Championship to 13 points over Solberg. Martin is a further four points further back third position.
The next round of the Championship is the Acropolis Rally to be conducted on June 24-26.