Subaru rally driver Chris Atkinson has finished the Rally of Turkey in thirteenth place after starting the final day in twentieth following a troubled opening two days of the event.

Despite missing out on any points, Atkinson sits in fourth place on the World Rally Championship points’ table as the series takes a six week mid-season break.

In his best season ever, the Australian driver has scored two second placings and another two third placings from the opening eight events. But in the last two rounds his good fortune has evaporated and he has struggled to stay in touch with the series leaders.

Mikko Hirvonen has reclaimed the lead with 59 points after winning in Turkey. Sebastien Loeb finished third this weekend and now has 56 points. Young Ford driver Jari-Matti Latvala has moved ahead of Atkinson into third on 34 points after finishing second in Turkey, just 7.9 seconds behind Hirvonen.

Atkinson remains on 31, one clear of Daniel Sordo who was fourth this weekend. Petter Solberg, driving the other Subaru Impreza WRC2008, is now fifth after his sixth in this rally.

The break is coming at a good time for Atkinson, who will return home to Queensland this week. After a media conference on Thursday in Brisbane and some commitments in Sydney on Friday, he will spend some time recuperating with family and friends on the Gold Coast.

But the break will be short, the focus will quickly move to working with his team on the new Impreza WRC2008 to ensure its development is fast tracked.

Atkinson had a rally he’d rather forget. On Friday he was forced to retire with suspension damage. On Saturday his car had an electrical fault and then a hydraulic issue. Today things were better, but still not quite as good as he wanted.

“It’s obviously disappointing to have had the small delays that we have had this weekend, but the team is learning all the time with the car,” Atkinson said.

“It’s not been an easy rally and the roads are very abrasive, but it’s a good challenge. The long stages today were particularly tough, but we’re out there testing so it works well.”

“Petter’s car had a perfect run, so it’s just bad luck for us. Now we have a six-week break so hopefully we can take some big steps forward and look forward to Finland.”

The ninth round of the 2008 Championship gets underway in Finland on July 31.

Final Results – Rally of Turkey
1. HIRVONEN, FORD, 04:42:07.1
2. LATVALA, FORD, 04:42:15.0, +07.9
3. LOEB, CITROEN, 04:42:32.8, +25.7
4. SORDO, CITROEN, 04:44:32.7, +02:25.6
5. H SOLBERG, FORD, 04:44:40.8, +02:33.7
6. P SOLBERG, SUBARU, 04:44:55.3, +02:48.2
7. WILSON, FORD, 04:46:31.3, +04:24.2
8. RAUTENBACH, CITROEN, 04:49:53.8, +07:46.7
13. ATKINSON, SUBARU, +22:36.5
Driver’s Championship points
1  Hirvonen / Lehtinen, 59
2  Loeb / Elena, 56
3  Latvala / Anttila, 34
4  Atkinson / Prévot, 31
5  Sordo / Marti, 30
6  P. Solberg / Mills, 20
7  Galli / Bernacchini, 17
8  H. Solberg / Menkerud, 16
Manufacturers’ Championship points
1  BP Ford WRT, 99
2  Citroen Total WRT, 90
3  Subaru World Rally Team, 53
4  Stobart VK M-Sport WRT, 41
5  Munchi’s Ford WRT, 19
6  Suzuki WRT, 10
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