Australian Chris Atkinson is on track to record his best finish on asphalt after moving into fourth position during the second leg of Rallye Monte Carlo, Round One of the 2007 FIA World Rally Championship, today.

Atkinson and co-driver Glenn Macneall started the day in sixth position before showing tremendous pace in the opening stage to set the fourth fastest time across the longest in the event. This time elevated the pair up to fourth spot overall.

“The opening stage was a tricky one. We chose a fairly soft tyre which worked particularly well in the early kilometres, which were damp. We took some time out of the guys in front of us without taking too many risks and moved into fourth,” said Atkinson.

Across the next two shorter stages Atkinson found his tyre choice was slightly softer than suited for the dry conditions which cost him some time. He did however maintain his spot inside the top four as the crews headed into the afternoon’s loop three stages.

As was the case during the morning pass across the 46.02km St Pierreville - Antraigues test Atkinson was on the pace and set the fifth fastest time across the stage.

“Things seem to be going well for us on the longer stages. We’ve been able to get into a good rhythm and have been able to maintain a good pace throughout the entire stage,” said Atkinson.

“We chose a slightly harder compound tyre than the morning pass but still managed to keep the temperatures up during the stage and extended the gap from us to fifth spot,” said Atkinson.

Over the remaining two stages, which were held in the dark, Atkinson continue tighten his grip on fourth spot by setting the fourth and eighth fastest stage times respectively.

“I’m very happy to be fourth at the moment. It’s a nice place to be. On the last two stages of the leg it was dark, we had difficulties defining the levels of grip and decided to be more cautious,” said Atkinson.

“Our target for this event was sixth position and we didn’t really expect to be this high after the second leg. Certainly tomorrow is going to be tough, because there’s a lot of good guys behind us and they will be pushing hard, but we will try to hold the position.”

Sebastien Loeb continues to lead the event, his first back from injury after breaking his arm last year. Danni Sordo remains in second spot, 25.2 seconds behind Loeb with Marcus Gronholm in third followed by Atkinson who is 17 seconds clear of Hirvonen in fifth.

Tomorrow’s action consists of six stages across a two loops of three tests and a total competitive distance of 131.52km.

Rallye Monte Carlo
Top Ten After Leg Two

1. Loeb / Elena 1:57.41.1
2. Sordo / Marti +25.2
3. Grönholm / Rautiainen +1:15.7
4. Atkinson / Macneall +2:30.3
5. Hirvonen / Lehtinen +2:47.5
6. Gardemeister / Honkanen +2:54.2
7. Solberg / Mills +3:05.6
8. Kopecky / Schovanek +3:45.5
9. Latvala/Anttila +4:12.1
10. Cuoq / Marty +4:31.0
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