Subaru rally driver Chris Atkinson has finished the opening day of Rally Italia in fifth place after an enthralling tussle on the island of Sardinia.

Atkinson kept himself largely out of trouble across the six stages and 131 competitive kilometres, while others around him experienced the vagaries of the island roads. But at the end of the day the leaders' board was tightly packed, ensuring a fascinating final two days of the rally.

Sebastien Loeb was again the dominant driver and the Frenchman leads the second-placed Daniel Sordo by 35.7 seconds. Atkinson's Subaru team mate, Petter Solberg is in third place, 53.8 seconds behind the leader. Next in line is Mikko Hirvonen, a further 5.1 seconds back with Atkinson fifth, another 10.1 seconds back and one minute 9.0 seconds behind Loeb.

Gigi Galli is in sixth place, just 3.3 seconds behind the Australian, while Jari-Matti Latvala is another 18.4 seconds in arrears.

Atkinson was reasonably content with his day, but knows he will have to step up the pace in his Impreza WRC2007 tomorrow if he is to maintain his placing. Galli and Latvala both closed the gap through across the final loop of three stages after experiencing punctures during the first run through the stages in the morning.

"It's not been a bad day today," Atkinson said. "It's good to get through the day with no problems though as it's been tough.

"The guys behind are going well and are fast, so we’ll have to pick it up a bit tomorrow to stay in the fight.

"It's a close battle for third, and there are a few people quite close who will join the fight tomorrow, so it'll be hard, that's for sure. I hope we can find a bit more to stay in the top five, but at least we are in the mix."

Leg two is the longest day of competition with six stages totalling over 134 kilometres.

It is run in the same region as day one, to the south west of the Olbia service park, the highlight being the infamous 29 kilometre Monte Lerno stage and its trademark jump. It was over this jump that Atkinson took off so remarkably in 2005, and this year has been made even steeper so could well catch crews out.

Immediately following that test is the Su Filigosu stage, a 16 kilometre downhill blast that will test brakes and drivers.

Results – end of Leg One, Rally Italia

1. LOEB, CITRÖEN, 01:31:27.6,
2. SORDO, CITRÖEN, 01:32:03.3, +35.7 secs to leader
3. SOLBERG, SUBARU, 01:32:21.4, +53.8
4. HIRVONEN, FORD, 01:32:26.5, +58.9
5. ATKINSON, SUBARU, 01:32:36.6, +1:09.0
6. GALLI, FORD, 01:32:39.9, +1:12.3
7. LATVALA, FORD, 01:32:58.7, +1:31.1
8. SOLBERG, FORD, 01:33:20.1, +1:52.5
Get full, exclusive access for only $6.55/month.
  • Full access
  • Exclusive news
  • Store & Tour discounts

Show Your Support


Recent Posts