Atkinson climbs to sixth in Wales
- 2nd December 2007, 8:16am
Atkinson spent the day locked in an absorbing battle with Matthew Wilson. The Queenslander, who started the day seventh, two seconds behind Wilson, immediately moved ahead of the British driver on the opening stage. But by day’s end, after a further six stages, just ten seconds still separated the two.
Leading the field is Mikko Hirvonen, 35.5 seconds clear of Marcus Gronholm, who is competing in his 150th and final WRC event. Sebastien Loeb is third, a further 39.5 seconds back. If those results are maintained tomorrow, Loeb will take his fourth consecutive World Rally Championship driver’s title.
Subaru World Rally Team driver Petter Solberg is in fourth place, two minutes 26.3 seconds behind Hirvonen.
It was one of the toughest days of the season, with a torrential downpour greeting competitors in the morning and rain persisting throughout the day.
The morning loop of three stages saw Atkinson struggle with the handling of his Impreza WRC2007.
“The first stage of the loop (SS7) was okay for us. I was driving comfortably - not going crazy – but keeping a good pace,” Atkinson said. “But on the second and third stages we struggled.”
“On SS8 we had a lot of understeer, and on the next one we had snap oversteer and damping problems too, so all we could do was try to get the car through in one piece.
After the lunchtime service, the afternoon provided the Gold Coast driver a little respite, but he still battled on to keep ahead of Wilson.
“The car was better in the afternoon after we made some changes but it has not been easy in these conditions,” Atkinson said.
“We found more pace this afternoon and I took a few more risks to try and put a gap to Matthew because he’s doing some good times. The main thing for us now is to make sure we get to the finish and get some good points.”
A further 100 competitive kilometres will test competitors tomorrow on the final day of the 2007 season.
Results – end Leg Two – Wales Rally GB
1, HIRVONEN, Ford, 02:16:27.3,
2, GRÖNHOLM, Ford, 02:17:02.8, +35.5
3, LOEB, Citroën, 02:17:42.3, +01:15.0
4, SOLBERG, Subaru, 02:18:53.6, +02:26.3
5, SORDO, Citroën, 02:19:24.2, +02:56.9
6, ATKINSON, Subaru, 02:22:17.2, +05:49.9
7, WILSON, Ford, 02:22:27.2, +05:59.9
8, STOHL, Citroën, 02:23:22.7, +06:55.4
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