Australian Chris Atkinson has set two stage times inside the top ten and showed a good increase in pace to be in 13th position with one leg remaining in the latest round of the World Rally Championship, the OMV ADAC Rallye Deutschland. With this...
Australian Chris Atkinson has set two stage times inside the top ten and showed a good increase in pace to be in 13th position with one leg remaining in the latest round of the World Rally Championship, the OMV ADAC Rallye Deutschland.
With this weekend being Atkinson's first event on tarmac aboard a World Rally spec Subaru Impreza, Atkinson indicated at the start of the rally that this weekend was all about gaining the experience on an unfamiliar surface and increasing his speed each day.
After finishing 15th in the opening leg yesterday, Atkinson and his West Australian co-driver Glenn Macneall was the first crew to tackle the seven stages held on a mixture of public and military roads today, which added another new challenge for the pair.
"Yesterday we took it very easy, making sure we got the feeling of the car on tarmac. Today we went up a level and the times improved quite well which is very encouraging," said Atkinson.
"By being the first car on the road the stages had a lot of loose gravel on them during the first time through (three stages were repeated throughout the day) and there are no braking marks from other drivers which made it even trickier in my tarmac debut.
"Obviously I am learning a lot and improving as I get more stages under my belt, the pace is also continually improving, however I am not about to start to take any risks. The aim is to keep improving and gain further experience on what is a very, very unfamiliar surface to me.
"I am starting to gain a good understanding of the car and have a better ability to predict how it will react in different situations on the varying levels of grip experienced in the stages.
"For me it is one step at a time to make sure that we get through tomorrow's stages cleanly and to the finish of the rally. However, I am confident that we can pick up some more pace without taking too many risks which is what I aim to do tomorrow."
Championship leader Sebastien Loeb has continued his dominance of the event to extend his lead by winning five of the seven stages contested throughout the day. With one day remaining he holds a 27 second lead over his Citroen team-mate Francois Duval, who is the only other driver to win a stage this weekend. Finnish driver Marcus Gronholm is third.
Tomorrow's final leg will feature six stages across 90 competitive kilometres on some very fast and narrow roads through the Saarland farming area.