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Subaru rally driver Chris Atkinson has crashed out of Wales Rally GB on the penultimate stage of the opening day of the event.
 
Battling wet and slippery conditions across the day, Atkinson was in sixth place after Special Stage 6. But then in heavy rain and with spotlights blazing in the pitch black evening, the Queenslander left the road on a tight, icy corner just 180 metres into Stage 7 in a high-speed crash.
 
Atkinson and co-driver Stéphane Prévot were treated on the spot by an ambulance crew, with Atkinson being airlifted to hospital for observation.
 
The high impact crash had left the Australian dazed, but talking to his team via radio. As a precautionary measure Atkinson was airlifted to hospital from the remote location. After his arrival at the Swansea hospital he underwent some tests before being released a few hours later, sore, bruised, but OK.
 
Atkinson had made a solid start to the rally after snow and ice had turned the opening day of the event into a shambles. Originally planned to include eight stages across 120 kilometres, snow and ice saw the day reduced to six stages and less than 50 competitive kilometres.
 
Stages one and four were cancelled this morning after safety officials ruled the tests too dangerous for competition with black ice spots hidden on many corners.
 
By the day’s end the top ten included many names not usually in the running for World Rally Championship points.
 
Jari-Matti Latvala, Atkinson’s rival for fourth in the Driver’s Championship, leads the way, 13.8 seconds clear of the man who has already claimed the title for a fifth time, Sebastien Loeb.
 
Atkinson’s team mate, Petter Solberg is fifth, 27.4 seconds behind the leader.
 
Results after day one, Wales Rally GB
 
1. Latvala / Anttila, Ford Focus RS WRC 07, 31m 20.5s
2. Loeb / Elena, Citroen C4 WRC, +12.9s (diff. to 1st)
3. Andersson / Andersson, Suzuki SX4 WRC, +22.5s
4. Ostberg / Unnerud, Subaru Impreza WRC, +24.0s
5. Solberg / Mills, Subaru Impreza WRC2008, +27.4s
6. Sordo / Marti, Citroen C4 WRC, +32.2s
7. Duval / Giraudet, Ford Focus RS WRC 07, +52.0s
8. Solberg / Menkerud, Ford Focus RS WRC 07, +54.7s
9. Ogier / Ingrassia, Citroen C4 WRC, +54.8s
10. Wilson / Martin, Ford Focus RS WRC 07, +1m 33.0s
Ret, Atkinson / Prévot, Subaru Impreza WRC2008, n/a
  • RallySportMag.com.au wishes Atko all the best for a speedy return to the stages.

 

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