Aussie Chris aims for top five
- 16th August 2006, 11:14am
Straight from finishing in the points with his eighth placing at Rallye Deutschland last Sunday, Subaru rally driver Chris Atkinson takes on Rally Finland this weekend, looking for a top five finish.
It's Atkinson’s third outing in the classic Finland round of the World Rally Championship, and the Queenslander is looking to producing his best result of the season.
"Rally Finland is an event I really enjoy,” Atkinson said. “It’s good fun to drive, it’s so fast and the jumps are incredible.”
“The testing we’ve done over the summer gave us some valuable information and everything suggests we’ve made a big step forward with the car.”
“I’m now looking forward to putting it into action on gravel. I’d like to be as competitive as the top five guys; I don’t think a podium finish is impossible."
Subaru World Rally Sporting Director, Luis Moya, agrees that Atkinson is set for a top result.
“I see no reason why Chris should not get a podium in this rally; he’s been very quick on the fast stages this year and knows the event well," Moya said.
Atkinson, and co-driver Glenn Macneall, will compete as one of the two official Subaru World Rally Team cars in the event. The other Impreza WRC2006 will be driven by Petter Solberg (co-driven by Phil Mills).
Solberg has driven the rally seven times before. Last year the Norwegian had a heavy landing after a jump on the first day of competition and extensively damaged the rear of his Impreza WRC2005. Subaru technicians repaired the car in the final 45-minute service of the day and Petter went on to finish fourth.
Atkinson competed in Rally Finland for the first time in 2004 when he drove a privately-entered Group N Impreza. The Australian made his Finland WRC debut last year and set some highly competitive times before retiring on SS19 with a mechanical problem.
Formerly known as ‘The Rally of the Thousand Lakes’, Rally Finland is regarded as one of the classics of the WRC calendar and features smooth gravel stages that pass through stunning forest scenery and around the lakes that gave the rally its original name.
With awe-inspiring stages and a record of producing some of the best drivers in the WRC, Finland is regarded as the spiritual home of rallying and it is estimated that a fifth of the entire population will turn out to watch their round of the Championship.
Often referred to as the ‘Finnish Grand Prix’, Rally Finland is unquestionably the fastest of the season.
Smooth, wide, undulating gravel stages enable drivers to reach breath-taking speeds of more than 200kph, while the numerous ‘yumps’, the famous Finnish jumps that feature throughout the route, demand the ultimate in confidence and precision driving. Technically, the event is a difficult one. Jumps can launch a car 50 metres through the air and lead directly into blind crests and sixth gear corners. With average speeds of around 120kph, the event demands unwavering commitment and bravery.
Finland is paired with Germany in this year’s WRC calendar, and with most cars not arriving from Rallye Deutschland until Tuesday morning, teams face a race against the clock to transform them from asphalt to gravel specification.
A Superspecial at the Killeri horse-trotting track opens the rally on Thursday 17 August, with the first of 19 more ‘proper’ stages following on Friday morning.
The rally comprises 351.61 competitive kilometres and is due to finish at 1454hrs (2354 AEST) on Sunday in the host town of Jyvaskyla
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