Subaru rally driver Chris Atkinson is in action in New Zealand this weekend, looking to demonstrate stage-winning pace again as the World Rally Championship returns to gravel after the asphalt test in Germany two weeks ago.

Atkinson set the fastest stages times on three occasions in Germany in his Impreza WRC2007, showing that he can match the speed of the series’ pace-makers, Sebastien Loeb and Marcus Gronholm.

The Queenslander has also set impressive times in New Zealand in his previous three outings in a Subaru and, after finishing fourth in Finland a month ago on dirt and then showing outstanding speed in Germany on tar, Atkinson goes into this round full of confidence.

“Everyone saw that we had the pace to win stages in Germany, and I hope that we can carry that on to New Zealand,” Atkinson said.

“Of course, being on gravel, it is very different to driving on asphalt, but we had a good event in Finland and I am happy with the car.”

“This year, New Zealand is the closest to being my home event and I will be pushing for more stage wins, but the main focus for me this time will be ensuring we are consistently fast throughout the three legs.”

The Subaru World Rally Team has entered three Impreza WRC2007s for the eleventh round of the series. Petter Solberg will drive car number seven, Atkinson car number eight, while Xevi Pons will be in car number 14.

Like last year, the event is based at Mystery Creek near Hamilton, about 100km south of Auckland.

It is made up of 18 special stages (including three runs at the Mystery Creek superspecial) and the total competitive distance will be 353.56km.

The rally commences with a ceremonial start in Hamilton city centre at 1830hrs (20:30hrs AEST) on Thursday 30 August, with the finish podium taking place at Mystery Creek at 1515hrs (1715hrs AEST) on Sunday 2 September.

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