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Despite a disastrous opening day, Subaru rally driver Chris Atkinson has salvaged a top ten result in Rally of Italy.

While the disappointment of Friday, when he was forced to stop with two stages remaining after hitting rocks left in the middle of the road, was still palpable, the gritty Queenslander spent the final two days climbing back up the leaders’ board from 15th to finish in 10th place.

After Sebastien Loeb exited on the opening stage of the final day, Marcus Gronholm took the lead and finished 29.2 seconds clear of Mikko Hirvonen and one minute 21.8 seconds ahead of Danni Sordo. Henning Solberg was fourth and Petter Solberg fifth.

Atkinson’s reward for battling on in difficult conditions was to gain valuable testing time in the Impreza WRC 2007 and to help Subaru World Rally Team score points in the Manufacturers’ Championship.

The Gold Coast driver was second on the road today and spent the morning pass of the stages sweeping the roads.

“We expected it to be a tough day, but we also knew how important it was to keep plugging away, because, as it ended up, we scored a point for Subaru in the manufacturers championship.”

“Hitting those rocks on SS5 was a big setback for our rally and I’m disappointed in light of the competitive stage times we set on the first morning.”

“Those times were a clear sign of this car’s potential, because both I and Petter were setting top-four times at one point. Now we’ll get our heads down and try to get the car right for Rally of Greece.”

Subaru World Rally Team managing director, Richard Taylor was also looking forward to the next challenge.

“We’ve got to the end of the rally with both cars in the top ten, and with Petter and Chris scoring useful manufacturer championship points,” Taylor said.

“At the same time, it is clear that we still have work to do to achieve consistent podium pace, however our engineers have got very positive ideas on how we can increase the speed of our 2007 car.”

Next event, round eight of the World Rally Championship, is a famous rally in a famous location - the Acropolis Rally of Greece - taking place from June 1-3.

The picturesque special stages are situated outside of the Greek capital city, Athens, and the stages are well-known for their hot temperatures and demanding terrain.

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