Frustrating day as Atkinson drops to sixth
- 3rd June 2007, 8:20am
Marcus Gronholm still holds the lead, 43.3 seconds clear of Sebastien Loeb with Petter Solberg now third, one minute 7.6 seconds off the pace.
The day started well for the Atkinson, but his joy was short lived. On the monster 48.2 kilometre Agii Theodori stage, the Australian was five seconds quicker even than World Champion Sebastien Loeb at the 30 kilometre split. But a front-right puncture at the 38 kilometre mark hampered his speed over the final 10 kilometres and, with the rubber flailing from the wheel rim, he dropped nearly two minutes and went from third to seventh overall.
Having worked his way back to be in a battle for fifth place, Atkinson experienced further issues on the day’s penultimate stage. Like Petter Solberg, he had some difficulties with a damper, but also had a driveshaft failure which saw him drop more than one minute to his rivals.
The Gold Coast driver is now left with the goal of completing the rally and gaining further World Championship points.
"We started the day with a really good pace, but again things didn’t really go to plan as the day went on," Atkinson said.
"I’m happy with the way I was driving, and it’s clear that the basic car package is improving all the time, but the rough conditions gave us a few mechanical problems and prevented us from pushing for a better result."
"But there's still the chance that we can have a better day tomorrow, so we'll do our best and see what happens."
Subaru World Rally Team managing director Richard Taylor thought conditions had played a big part in the fortunes of his team.
"It’s been a fairly typical day on Rally of Greece and most of the leading competitors have experienced problems of one kind or another," Taylor said.
"It was as tough as we expected – Chris was slowed by a puncture on the first stage of the day, and Petter had to slow towards the end of the same stage when his visibility was obscured by dust. Then Petter experienced a broken damper near the end of the day, while Chris had a driveshaft problem which cost him quite a lot of time."
"Nevertheless we still have two cars in the points after two days of extremely challenging conditions. Before the rally we would have been very happy to be looking at a podium and a sixth place, but in light of the position we were in yesterday, we now feel slightly disappointed. That’s a measure of the recent progress the team has made."
The final leg of the rally comprises four special stages and then another turn around the Superspecial inside the stadium at the Olympic equestrian centre. The competitive distance covered will be 78.94km.
Results - End Leg Two - Acropolis Rally of Greece
1, Grönholm / Rautiainen, FORD Focus RS WRC 06, 03:00:22.3
2, Loeb / Elena, CITROEN C4, 03:01:05.6, +43.3
3, Solberg / Mills, SUBARU Impreza WRC 06, 03:01:29.9, +01:07.6
4, Hirvonen / Lehtinen, FORD Focus RS WRC 06, 03:02:54.4, +02:32.1
5, Solberg / Menkerud, FORD Focus RS WRC 06, 03:03:31.6, +03:09.3
6, Atkinson / Prevot, SUBARU Impreza WRC 06, 03:05:47.3, +05:25.0
7, Kopecky / Schovanek, SKODA Fabia WRC, 03:07:17.7, +06:55.4
8, Stohl / Minor, CITROEN Xsara WRC, 03:07:54.3, +07:32.0
9, Wilks / Pugh, FORD Focus RS WRC 05, 03:08:21.9, +07:59.6
10, Wilson / Orr, FORD Focus RS WRC 06, 03:09:07.1, +08:44.8
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