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Subaru rally driver Chris Atkinson has moved up a further five positions on the final day of Rally Sweden to finish the event in 21st position.

Hopes of a top five result to build on his third at the season opener in Monte Carlo disappeared early in the rally when the Queenslander got stuck in snow on just the third stage and dropped 15 minutes.

But Atkinson endured across the final two days to move from his 45th position at the end of the opening leg up 24 placings to score valuable manufacturer points for Subaru.

The Australian, in just his fourth season on the World Rally Championship, also added to his experience in what was a most unusual Rally Sweden. Normally a snow-based event, the roads were often just gravel and slush due to the unseasonably warm conditions, testing even the veterans of the sport.

Outright honours in Sweden went to Jari-Matti Latvala with Mikko Hirvonen taking second place, 58.3 seconds in arrears.

Gigi Galli held on for third position while Atkinson’s team mate, Petter Solberg, finished fourth.

Atkinson is now sixth in the Championship points standing.

“We really weren’t pushing today as we didn’t need to take any risks” Atkinson said.

“I’m disappointed we went off on Friday, but we’ve come back up through the field and still gained a Manufacturer point. The stages today were the same as yesterday, and we saw those at the front back off so there were no real fights for position.

“It’s been a difficult rally for us, but we take the point and now look to Mexico which will be a totally different event”

In two weeks crews will travel to Mexico for the first proper gravel rally of the season and the first long-haul event of the year.

The rally will take place from 29 February to 2 March, opening with a ceremonial start in Guanajuato City on Thursday 28 February.

The flowing gravel roads will take crews up to an altitude of 2700m through the mountains of the Sierra de Lobos and Sierra de Guanajuato, just outside the bustling city of León. There is also a Superspecial spectator stage that will be run three times within the Leon racetrack, and there will be no remote services on this event.

Rally Sweden - Final results

1. Latvala / Anttila, Ford Focus RS WRC 07, 2h 46m 41.2s
2. Hirvonen / Lehtinen, Ford Focus RS WRC 07, +58.3s (diff. to 1st)
3. Galli / Bernacchini, Ford Focus RS WRC 07, +2m 23.2s
4. Solberg / Mills, Subaru Impreza WRC2007, +2m 59.4s
5. Mikkelsen / Floene, Ford Focus WRC, +5m 46.0s
6. Sordo / Marti (Superally), Citroen C4 WRC, +7m 13.1s
7. Gardemeister / Tuominen, Suzuki SX4, +10m 35.3s
8. Hanninen / Markkula, Mitsubishi Lancer Evo IX, +12m 27.5s
9. Ostberg / Unnerud, Subaru Impreza WRC, +13m 28.5s
10. Ketomaa / Teiskonen, Subaru Impreza, +13m 50.7s
21. Atkinson / Prévot, Subaru Impreza WRC2007, +20m 51.9s

Driver's Championship points

1  Hirvonen / Lehtinen, 16
2  Loeb / Elena, 10
-  Latvala / Anttila, 10
4  Solberg / Mills, 9
-  Galli / Bernacchini, 9
6  Atkinson / Prévot, 6
7  Duval / Chevalier, 5
8  Mikkelsen / Floene, 4

Manufacturers' Championship points

1  BP Ford WRT, 26
2  Subaru World Rally Team, 16
-  Stobart VK M-Sport WRT, 16
4  Citroen Total WRT, 15
5  Suzuki WRT, 5
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