Subaru rally driver Chris Atkinson has produced an outstanding drive, withstanding enormous pressure, to finish third in Rally Finland.
The result moved the Queenslander back into third place in the championship, having now recorded five podium results from the first nine events of the series.
Sebastien Loeb won the event by nine seconds from Mikko Hirvonen but remains second in the series to his arch rival. Hirvonen’s lead has been reduced to the slenderest margin, as he sits atop the points table with 67 points, one clear of Loeb.
Atkinson’s third provided him with an additional six points and lifted his tally to 37, two clear of the man who was his major threat today, Daniel Sordo.
The young Queenslander went into the final day with just a one second buffer over the Spaniard. But on a day with just three special stages and 40 competitive kilometres Atkinson attacked from the outset with immediate effect.
By the end of the opening stage Atkinson’s lead had stretched to 13.4 seconds and he was able to defend that across the final two stages to eventually beat Sordo home by 13.9 seconds.
Atkinson has now amassed three thirds and two seconds this season. It is just the third event for the new Impreza WRC2008, and while work still needs to be done to ensure he has the pace to match Loeb and Hirvonen, the result in Finland was definitely a step forward for the team.
Considering Atkinson was back in ninth place during the opening day action on Friday, his fightback across the final two days made the podium finish even more rewarding.
Results - Rally Finland (Provisional)
1 LOEB Citroën 02:54:05.5 
2 HIRVONEN Ford 02:54:14.5 +09.0
3 ATKINSON Subaru 02:57:22.5 +03:17.0
4 SORDO Citroën 02:57:36.4 +3:30.9
5 SOLBERG Ford 02:58:03.2 +3:57.7
6 SOLBERG Subaru 02:58:09.6 +4:04.1
7 RANTANEN Ford 03:00:16.6 +06:11.1
8 GARDEMEISTER Suzuki 03:02:24.2 +08:18.7
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