Subaru rally driver Chris Atkinson has produced a superb drive on day two of Rallye Deutschland, winning a further two stages and moving into tenth place outright from his overnight 12th.

Except for the mistake on the second stage yesterday, when he lost over seven minutes after a spin, the Australian would be clearly challenging for a podium position.

The lead is held by reigning world champion Sebastien Loeb, 37.8 seconds clear of Marcus Gronholm and 50.4 seconds ahead of Francois Duval.

Subaru’s Petter Solberg is seventh and Xavier Pons eighth. Atkinson is eight minutes 50.9 seconds behind Loeb and more than four minutes outside top eight, so a points scoring result is unlikely despite the speed consistently demonstrated by the Gold Coast driver in his Subaru Impreza WRC.

Not only did Atkinson set the fastest time on two of the four afternoon stages, he did so emphatically.

On SS12, the 27-year-old completed the 19 kilometres 5.1 seconds faster than Loeb and was then 1.9 seconds clear of the field on SS14.

He was second fastest on another stage, and had two other top three results from the eight stages contested. Atkinson has clearly demonstrated that he will be a threat in the final six rounds of the Championship.

“We’ve been fine-tuning the set-up on the car today and concentrating on learning – after losing time yesterday that’s all I can do,” Atkinson said.

“I keep making improvements to my driving, I’m still making mistakes here and there, but there’s a lot to learn – this is only our second asphalt rally on BFGoodrich tyres – but obviously we’re not learning too slowly.”

“I’m very pleased with the speed today. We were consistently fast, which is pretty cool.”

“Two years ago I did my first asphalt rally, and it was never going to happen straight away, but it’s pretty good to be doing these sort of times now.”

“The stage wins just prove again that the Impreza WRC2007 is very quick. The times have been there all weekend so people shouldn't be that surprised. I’m feeling good about the car and we know the speed is there, so to take another two stage wins is great.”

“I’m going to drive just the same tomorrow (Sunday), there’s no reason not to. If we can do some more quick times then it’s good for Subaru.”

Subaru World Rally Team managing director Richard Taylor was delighted with Atkinson’s drive.

“Chris has had a really excellent day,” Taylor said. “He’s broken back into the top ten at the finish, but really his pace over the whole rally, with the exception of one stage, has been podium-pace without a doubt.”

“We’re very pleased with him and he’s done a great job.

Tomorrow the teams return to the vineyards of Mosel for the shortest leg of the rally. At only 62.81 competitive kilometres, the first two stages visit the narrow vineyard roads before returning to Trier itself for the superspecial stage Circus Maximum Trier. An entirely new stage for 2007, it is based in the heart of the town and has a unique format that means at times there will be four cars running at once, spaced only 15 seconds apart.

Results – End Leg Two, Rallye Deutschland

Pos  Driver        Make      Time
1. Loeb Citroen 2h48:40.4
2. Gronholm Ford + 37.8
3. Duval Citroen + 50.4
4. Hirvonen Ford + 55.5
5. Kopecky Skoda + 2:48.7
6. Gardemeister Citroen + 2:51.4
7. Solberg Subaru + 3:07.1
8. Pons Subaru + 4:16.4
9. Latvala Ford + 4:53.8
10. Atkinson Subaru + 8:50.9

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