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Australia's Subaru World Rally Team driver, Chris Atkinson, brings us his latest news after the 2008 WRC season has concluded.

Hi everyone,

Well the rest of the year’s rallies have gone by since I’ve last been in touch. Both Petter and I fared well in Corsica to pick up 5th and 6th place but, unfortunately, Japan didn’t quite turn out as we’d hoped, but hey, that’s rallying sometimes!



For those of you who saw the in-car footage, it does look pretty frightening don’t you think?  It was actually not too bad and we thought we could keep going until I turned around and saw the massive hole in the roof!

Next up we had Ireland and then GB to close out the year which saw some great battles, with the Championship being so close. We did Ireland last year when it ran as a candidate event for the WRC and did pretty well in a Group N Subaru. I think we ended up 4th outright against a host of WRC cars and won our class by a fair bit.

Rally Japan was again a bit of an eye opener to see all the weird and wonderful things that you really only get at that event. I think this year, one of the best ones was a fan in full lycra trying to imitate a rally car with a crazy mask on! You wouldn’t even consider wearing something like it to a fancy dress party, but this bloke didn’t seemed phased, wearing it throughout the service park, which was always packed with thousands of spectators.

After competing in Japan, which might I add, as a bit of a sushi fanatic, is one of the best places to eat, Petter and I headed to Mt Fuji Raceway for some PR duties. We were lucky enough to drive some guests round the race track in the 2008 WRX Sti which is really something special. They had one at the start with big dark rims in a dark charcoal colour which really did look the business.

Anyone looking for a new car, you should go and test drive one of them, over 300 horsepower, adjustable diffs, throttle maps and you don’t even need a key to start the thing… what a dream.

We then headed back to sunny old England to prepare the cars for Ireland. The pre-Ireland shakedown was at a racetrack just near Prodrive’s headquarters in Oxford and went quite well for both Petter and I. The event was quite spectacular and extremely challenging, and while we didn’t pick up the desired result, there was another fastest stage time in there, which is promising to know the speed can be there for next season.  

Before GB both Petter and I had a test in mid-Wales before the final WRC round. Like last year, it was in a little town with a funny name which has one of the nicest hotels in the UK with one of the nicest restaurants that served the strangest steak and chips I have ever seen. I ordered it again and took a few snaps to show you what I mean!

Rally GB was a bit of a battle, but a points finish to round off the year is a good way to head into next year’s championship. Matt Wilson put up a good fight in GB and it was fun to have a close race; it’s what rallying should be about.

Since then I’ve just been back down in Monaco training a lot, especially on the bike, which I’ve started to enjoy as a new form of exercise. I went for a big five hour ride with Olympic cyclist Brad McGee the other day, except we swapped road for mountain bikes and he took me through some amazing trails in the south of France. There were some scary moments in there, where you were real close to massive cliff drops and riding some cool trails. It was really great fun and interesting to see how Brad cross-trains in the forest for his road races.

Well, another year under the belt and seventh overall in the championship. It’s not too bad really, but next year there is only one way to go and that’s faster. I’m looking forward to heading back home soon for a good rest, some wakeboarding and a few beers with the boys.

So until next time, I’m off.  Everyone stay cool and enjoy your Summer, you lucky kids. Oh, and if you want a bit of a laugh, check out my new doco on SBS on Sunday, December 30 at 12 o’clock.

Ciao for now (gee the Italian is really coming along!)

- Atko  







 

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