Atkinson finishes Rally GB seventh
- 3rd December 2007, 8:18am
The season honours went to Sebastien Loeb for the fourth consecutive year. He scored a total 116, four clear of Marcus Gronholm in second and 19 ahead of Mikko Hirvonen, the winner in Wales this weekend, who was third overall.
While the season was a struggle for Atkinson with his Subaru unable to match the outright performance of his major rivals, the gritty 27-year-old managed to collect 31 points from 10 of the 16 events contested.
Last season Atkinson gathered a total of 20 points from seven events to finish the year ranked ninth. In 2005, his debut in the Championship, the Gold Coast driver finished the season ranked 12th having collecting 13 points from three events.
His best results in 2007 were three fourth placings, the first in the season opener in Monte Carlo, the second in Finland in August and the third in New Zealand in September.
The final day of Rally GB did not go to plan for Atkinson, with handling issues and a windscreen wiper problem on the first two stages costing him around 30 seconds to Brit Matthew Wilson. Having fought so hard yesterday to move ahead of Wilson into sixth place, it was disappointing for Atkinson to slip back to seventh because of the issue.
Mikko Hirvonen held off a fast finishing Marcus Gronholm by 15.2 seconds to take his first Rally GB victory. Sebastien Loeb finished third and Petter Solberg fourth.
Atkinson, despite his troubles, held on for seventh.
“Of the three times I’ve attempted Rally GB this has been the most frustrating,” Atkinson said.
“As a driver I can honestly say I’ve tried my best, but for a number of different reasons that hasn’t been enough to get decent stage times.”
“We have experienced a variety of small issues but the main hurdle has been the inconsistent handling of the car. This morning we tried a set-up which worked well on Friday, but for some reason today it didn’t work at all.”
“We have a lot of questions to answer in the off-season and a lot of testing planned to enable us to turn things around. We want to be fighting for wins again, for Subaru and the fans as well.”
Subaru World Rally Team managing director, Richard Taylor, says his team is now looking to 2008.
“Overall it’s been a difficult year for the team but we are very positive that the development of our new car that will appear during 2008 will once again deliver the results that Subaru supporters and our drivers have come to expect.”
BP-Ford World Rally Team took the Manufacturers’ title with 212 points, from Citroen Total World Rally Team on 183 with the Subaru World Rally Team third with 87 points.
The 2008 WRC season commences in Monte Carlo from 24 – 27 January.
Final results – Wales Rally GB
1, Hirvonen / Lehtinen, Ford Focus RS WRC 07, 03:22:50.9, 00.0
2, Grönholm / Rautiainen, Ford Focus RS WRC 07, 03:23:06.1, +15.2
3, Loeb / Elena, Citroën C4, 03:24:23.9, +01:33.0
4, Solberg / Mills, Subaru Impreza WRC 2007, 03:25:48.2, +02:57.3
5, Sordo / Marti, Citroën C4, 03:26:05.2, +03:14.3
6, Wilson / Orr, Ford Focus RS WRC 06, 03:30:23.8, +07:32.9
7, Atkinson / Prevot, Subaru Impreza WRC 2007, 03:31:20.4, +08:29.5
8, Stohl / Minor, Citroën Xsara WRC, 03:31:45.5, +08:54.6
9, Pons / Amigo, Subaru Impreza WRC 2006, 03:32:39.7, +09:48.8
10, Latvala / Anttila, Ford Focus RS WRC 06, 03:33:33.3, +10:42.4
2007 WRC Driver’s Championship
1, S Loeb, 116
2, M Grönholm, 112
3, M Hirvonen, 99
4, D Sordo, 65
5, P Solberg, 47
6, H Solberg, 34
7, C Atkinson, 31
8, J Latvala, 30
2007 WRC Manufacturers’ Championship
1, BP-Ford World Rally Team, 212
2, Citroen Total World Rally Team, 183
3, Subaru World Rally Team, 87
4, Stobart M-Sport Ford Rally Team, 81
5, OMV Kronos Citroen World Rally Team, 45
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