Subaru rally driver Chris Atkinson has finished Rallye Deutschland in sixth place but slipped to fourth in the battle for the 2008 World Rally Championship driver’s title.

Atkinson ended the day where he started, adopting a caution first policy across the five special stages and 78 competitive kilometres, determined to score at least three championship points for his efforts in Germany.

Unfortunately for him, Daniel Sordo, who was two points behind before this event, finished second outright to earn eight points and move up to third place in the Championship.

Sebastien Loeb won the German round and has moved into first place in the series with 76 points. Mikko Hirvonen finished third in the event and, as a result, slipped back to second in the Championship with 72 points. Sordo now has 43 points and Atkinson 40, having scored points in seven of the ten rounds this season.

Loeb finished the weekend as the clear leader, 47.7seconds in front of Sordo, with tarmac specialist Francois Duval third, another 32.3 seconds back. Hirvonen was fourth, Petter Solberg fifth, Atkinson sixth and Henning Solberg seventh.

The Subaru Impreza WRC2008s could not match the pace of their rivals on their tarmac debut, but Atkinson committed his final day in Germany to efforts to increase its speed in future rounds.

A stall on the start line of the day’s first stage and damage to the rear suspension three kilometres later did not give the Australian any alternate strategy options anyway.

“There were large gaps today between Petter in front of us and Henning (Solberg) behind us, so we weren’t taking any silly risks,” Atkinson said

“It’s not been a bad weekend and there are a lot of things we can take forward from it.”

“This morning was a little frustrating, but we tried to find out some new things today that will help us continue fine-tuning the car and improve our performance, which is the main focus.”

“I’m really looking forward to New Zealand in a couple of weeks now. It’s like my home rally, I have a good feeling for the roads there and hopefully we can keep taking steps forward with the car on dirt.”

New Zealand takes place from August 28 to 31 August out of Hamilton. Competitors face 16 stages stretching 354.80 kilometres.

Final results - Rallye Deutschland

1. Loeb / Elena, Citroen C4 WRC, 3h 26m 19.7s
2. Sordo / Marti, Citroen C4 WRC, +47.7s (diff. to 1st)
3. Duval / Pivato, Ford Focus RS WRC 07, +1m 20.0s
4. Hirvonen / Lehtinen, Ford Focus RS WRC 07, +1m 30.1s
5. Solberg / Mills, Subaru Impreza WRC2008, +2m 35.3s
6. Atkinson / Prévot, Subaru Impreza WRC2008, +4m 45.9s
7. Solberg / Menkerud, Ford Focus RS WRC 07, +5m 36.2s
8. Aava / Sikk, Citroen C4 WRC, +5m 37.8s
9. Latvala / Anttila, Ford Focus RS WRC 07, +6m 17.2s
10. Gardemeister / Tuominen, Suzuki SX4 WRC, +7m 16.8s

Driver's Championship points

1 Loeb / Elena, 76
2 Hirvonen / Lehtinen, 72
3 Sordo / Marti, 43
4 Atkinson / Prévot, 40
5 Latvala / Anttila, 34
6 P. Solberg / Mills, 27
7 H. Solberg / Menkerud, 22
8 Galli / Bernacchini, 17

Manufacturers’ Championship points

1 Citroen Total WRT, 123
2 BP Ford WRT, 115
3 Subaru World Rally Team, 69
4 Stobart VK M-Sport WRT, 51
5 Munchi’s Ford WRT, 19
6 Suzuki WRT, 13
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