Podiums and stage wins Atko’s aim
- 19th December 2006, 2:50pm
Atkinson's best result this year was a fourth place finish in Japan and while he showed good pace on other events, including in Australia, ultimately a mistake on day two in Oz while leading, dropped him down the order.
"I think I am driving pretty well," Atkinson told British website Crash.net this week. "It has just been hard [this year]. The whole team is working flat out to get things back to where we want to be. It is not easy. Hopefully though, we will see some improvements with the whole package next year and the results that we have been trying to get will come."
The Queenslander is keen to repeat his only podium place, which was in Japan in 2005.
"I think come our third year we can really start to push on a bit more," he continued. "We want podiums. We really wanted them this year, but there have been obvious problems and that has not helped us. The whole team is working hard and if we can be on the podium a fair bit and win some stages, then that will be good.
"I'm always positive though – and I am just looking forward to getting back out there. There is nothing like setting fast times and leading rallies, so that is hopefully what we will be doing a bit more in 2007.
"We are flat-out testing up until the end of December now, and then we start again in early January. There is some running in with the new car and then obviously testing for Monte Carlo and Sweden. So, no time to go home [to Australia], but it is good to be busy and keep working on the improvements."
Prodrive boss, David Richards, will be more hands-on with the team in '07, and Atkinson believes this will help, as the team look to bounce back from a dismal 2006.
"Everything is progressing and I think the atmosphere at the team will be boosted by Richards' return. It is good news and I think that the decisions that have been made are heading the team back in the right direction."
Rally Australia will not be a part of the WRC in 2007, but Atkinson is already looking forward to the return of the WRC down under in 2008, when it will be based in his home state, Queensland.
“We have led our rally twice now at home, but it would be nice to lead it all the way to the finish. Hopefully we can do that in 2008," he concluded.
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