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Subaru rally driver, Chris Atkinson, has finished Rally Finland in eleventh place after setting three top five times on the final day’s four stages, again displaying what might have been if the Queenslander had experienced a little luck across the weekend.

Atkinson suffered a number of setbacks on Saturday with gearbox and steering problems ruining any chance of a podium result after being strongly placed in sixth position after the opening day on Friday.

Marcus Gronholm won the event with Sebastien Loeb second and Mikko Hirvonen third.

Atkinson was philosophical at the end of the rally and had spent the final day already preparing for Japan in just 12 days time.

“Today we just spend testing, trying a few different things and trying to get that extra little bit that will make a difference in Japan,” Atkinson said. “The team is working very hard and we’ve found a bit of a direction and some ideas to go on.”

“We had a good rally here driving-wise and Glenn (Macneall) did a good job in the co-driver’s seat, so that is the main thing for us to concentrate on.”

“We did exactly what we were supposed to and ran throughout the event with the top five.”

“We’re off to Sardinia until Friday for a development test, so it’s pretty hectic.”

“We are really looking forward to Japan as I had a good result there last year when we scored our first podium and we’re working on getting another one this year, that’s for sure.”

Subaru World Rally Team Sporting Director, Luis Moya, said: “Chris’ problems are in no way his fault.”

“It is good to see some very strong pace from Chris when he has had a clean run. We are also encouraged that the work over the summer break has brought improvements to the car and while there is still much more to do, we know we are going in the right direction.”

“Now our focus is on getting the best package in place for Rally Japan and we hope to repeat our previous performance on that event.”

Round 11 of the 2006 World Rally Championship is Subaru’s home event – Rally Japan. In 12 days time crews will begin Leg one of the gravel rally, which is run from the city of Obihiro.

Final results – Rally Finland

1, Grönholm / Rautiainen, Ford Focus RS WRC 06, 02:52:50.3
2, Loeb / Elena, Citroen Xsara, 02:53:57.0, +01:06.7
3, Hirvonen / Lehtinen, Ford Focus RS WRC 06, 02:54:24.8, +01:34.5
4, Solberg / Menkerud, Peugeot 307 WRC, 02:56:48.1, +03:57.8
5, Galli / Bernacchini, Peugeot 307 WRC, 02:58:30.2, +05:39.9
6, Tuohino / Markkula, Citroen Xsara WRC, 02:58:55.3, +06:05.0
7, Välimäki / Kalliolepo, Mitsubishi Lancer WRC, 02:59:45.7, +06:55.4
8, Kopecky / Schovanek, Skoda Fabia WRC, 03:03:05.3, +10:15.0
9, Stohl / Minor, Peugeot 307 WRC, 03:06:18.3, +13:28.0
10, Wilson / Orr, Ford Focus RS WRC 04, 03:07:37.7, +14:47.4
11, Atkinson / Macneall, Subaru Impreza WRC 2006, 03:11:50.9, +19:00.6

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