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Subaru rally driver, Chris Atkinson, is in action in Sardinia this weekend, hoping that a recent test session in his Impreza WRC 2007 will lead to an improved performance in the seventh round of the 2007 World Rally Championship.

Atkinson finished seventh in his last outing in Argentina two weeks ago, lifting his WRC points tally to 12 for the season, but was never comfortable with the set-up of his car.

However, a testing session late last week has the Australian feeling more confident about his chances this weekend.

“While we finished in the points in seventh position in Argentina the aim is to finish a little higher up the order in Sardinia.”

“The test on Friday went well and we made some changes to the car.”

“It will take a bit of time for it all to fall back into place and for us to be used to things, but I am starting to have a better feeling with the car, which is a good sign.”

“As far as the special stages are concerned, this is a rally I always enjoy, and I went well here last year.”

Subaru World Rally Team operations director Paul Howarth, believes changes to this year’s course will be an advantage to Atkinson.

“About one quarter of the roads will be new for this year, which is good for Chris, because the more experienced drivers will not be able to rely on familiarity of the stages.”

“Sardinia is always a tough rally, especially because of the way the road condition deteriorates when the drivers tackle them for the second time. The opening leg of the rally on Friday is made up of three long stages and will be particularly tough on the tyres, especially when the drivers go back along those roads in the afternoon. The tests are all very demanding on the car and this rally is all about reliability and consistency.”

Italy’s round of rallying’s global tour is based in the port of Olbia on the picturesque Costa Smeralda coast, in the north east of Sardinia. It is the fourth consecutive loose-surface rally in this year’s championship and competitors will speed through a spectacular mountain landscape.

The rally includes some technical, medium-width roads featuring a hard-packed base covered with a layer of fine, sandy gravel.

The drivers running first on the road will be at a disadvantage because they will be sweeping the loose surface for the following cars. However, some of the roads tend to get very rough when the crews drive through them for the second time, which they will do with all of the nine routes. Therefore a shrewd tyre choice and intelligent driving will be absolutely vital on this event.

Warm temperatures are the norm, but rain is a possibility, especially up in the hills, where the drivers will thread their cars up narrow passes to altitudes of more than 800 metres above sea level. At the moment the forecast is for the rally to be held on a damp surface.

After the ceremonial start in the old harbour area of Porto Cervo on Thursday 17 May, the action begins with the 31km Crastazza stage at 0943hrs on Friday morning.

There are six timed sections on each of the three days, and the winning car is scheduled to cross the finish line back in Porto Cervo at 1430hrs on Sunday 20 May.

In total, the competitors will cover 342.86km of timed sections and 718.98km of public road driving, making a total rally distance of 1061.84km.

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