Subaru rally driver Chris Atkinson has continued his strong World Rally Championship campaign by finishing in third place in Rally Jordan.

It is the Australian’s fourth podium from five starts this season and the fifth of his career. Atkinson has had a brilliant start to the 2008 season, finishing second in Argentina and  Mexico and third in the season opener in Monte Carlo.

Victory in Jordan went to Mikko Hirvonen, who finished the event one minute 15.7 seconds clear of the early leader, Daniel Sordo. Atkinson, driving an Impreza WRC2007, was a further three minutes 43.8 seconds back.

The result leaves the Gold Coast driver in third place on the WRC driver’s points table. Hirvonen leads on 35 points, five clear of reigning title holder Sebastien Loeb, with Atkinson on 28 points. The three have a clear break over the next best, Latvala, who has 18 points.

The result in the Middle East continues to establish Atkinson as one of the young guns on the circuit. Not only has he been the most consistent performer in the series this year, he has achieved results on a range of surfaces in three different continents.

Atkinson started the final day of Rally Jordan in fourth place, but when Jari-Matti Latvala had suspension problems on the morning loop of three stages, the 28-year-old grabbed his opportunity and moved into third.

Atkinson was delighted to finish in the top three which exceeded his pre-event expectations.

“We scored good points again and it’s good for us and good for the team as it keeps us close to the guys at the front of the championship,” Atkinson said.

“It was a difficult rally for us as almost from the start we were in the middle of nowhere with big gaps in front and behind of us. We managed to go along at our own pace, keeping it on the road.

“We had some hard times when things weren’t going well but we managed to get through. It was a bit of misfortune for others that opened the door for us. That was lucky for us but sometimes that’s just how it goes.

“We’ve still got a lot of work to do and we want to be more competitive on pace and pushing for wins, but four podiums from five rallies is a very consistent start for us so with that I’m happy.”

The next event is the Italian round of the Championship from May 15 to 18.

Results - Rally Jordan

1 HIRVONEN Ford 04:02:47.9  
2 SORDO Citroen 04:04:03.6 +01:15.7
3 ATKINSON Subaru 04:07:47.4, +04:59.5
4 SOLBERG Ford 04:10:23.7, +07:35.8
5 WILSON Ford 04:13:29.6 +10:41.7
6 VILLAGRA Ford 04:14:10, +11:22.2
7 LATVALA Ford 04:15:03, +12:15.6

2008 Driver's points after Round 5

1 M Hirvonen  Ford 35
2 S Loeb Citroen 30
3 C Atkinson  Subaru  28
4  J Latvala   Ford 18
5 D Sordo Citroen 17
6 G  Galli  Ford 12
7 P Solberg  Subaru 9

2008 Manufacturers' points after Round 5

1 BP-Ford WRT  57
2 Kronos Total Citroen  50
3  Subaru WRT 39
4 Stobat M-Sport Ford 29
5 Munchi's Ford WRT 14
6   Suzuki WRT 6
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