Atkinson completes successful circuit debut
- 22nd June 2006, 3:43pm
The 26-year-old Australian shared an Autosportif Racing GB-prepared spec C Subaru Impreza WRX STI with the 2003 British Formula 3 champion Alan van der Merwe, Le Mans and touring car veteran Phil Bennett and six-time Nurburg 24 Hours competitor Jonathan Price. The quartet completed 105 laps of the legendary 25km ‘Nordschleife’ circuit to finish 13th in the SP6 class.
From 36th on the grid Bennett pushed the Impreza as high as 33rd overall in the first stint before handing the car to van der Merwe. Atkinson was third to take the wheel and maintained position until the end of his eight lap stint.
The Impreza ran faultlessly throughout the first half of the race, with the only stops being routine refuels and tyre and driver changes. The impressive performance continued throughout the night, however turbo-charger related problems in the early morning dropped the team well down the running order after the car returned to the pits for essential repairs. With the problems rectified, the drivers were able to work their way back to 13th in class, 116th overall.
Chris completed four one and a half hour stints during the daunting endurance test.
“When the car was running well we were able to run at the same speed as the leading cars in our class. The track itself was like a rally stage in places and I thoroughly enjoyed the experience. The atmosphere in the team was brilliant – my experienced team-mates helped me with my driving technique and I was able to help them with the set-up of the Impreza," Atkinson said.
"Obviously I’ve never had to deal with traffic before, but I felt comfortable passing people out there on the track. You’ve got to be aggressive, but tread carefully so you don’t overdo it. I’d like to come back again to put in more laps and get a better result.”
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