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Subaru driver, Chris Atkinson, enters his third full World Rally Championship season this week when he contests the Monte Carlo Rally.

The Gold Coast driver chatted about his plans for 2007 in the lead-up to the event.

What are your personal targets for 2007?
“We all hope to be on the podium a lot more and fighting for positions that are a bit higher than they were in 2006. With the effort that the team has been putting in during the off season, we should be capable of achieving that.”

Do you think you developed as a driver during 2006?
“We improved on the asphalt rallies and I also think we got a lot more consistent during the season. Okay, sometimes we weren’t as high up the order as we would have liked, but we were often fighting for fourth or fifth. If we can carry on making some improvements to the car, hopefully we can be consistently challenging higher up the order.”

You led convincingly in the early stages of Rally Australia. Do you feel you proved to the world that you have the potential to beat the best?
“It wasn’t just in Australia: we’ve led three rallies now, which is a good sign, but we want to do it more often and we’d like to lead all the way to the finish too! But for that to happen, everything has to come good at the same time and that’s what we’re all working towards at the moment.”

This will be your third season with the Subaru World Rally Team. Is the stable environment a help to you?
“I know more what I want out of the car now and when I get that I’ll be pretty confident, because I know I can do it when everything is right, it is just a matter of getting things right all the time.”

You were very strong on Rallye Monte Carlo last year. Did your sixth-place finish surprise you at all?
“Some excellent tyre choices helped us to run well and we were second at the end of the opening day. Okay we slipped back on legs two and three, but we never expected to be that high on our first visit to Monte Carlo because it is such a specialised event. Sixth at the end of the rally was a result that we never expected. On the final day of the rally we began to take time off the guys in front of us, which again was very encouraging.”

Will you adopt a conservative approach and drive for points finishes on the opening three rallies, until the new Subaru Impreza WRC appears for Mexico in March?
“If we can get some good points on the first three rallies it would be great, but we want to be up there fighting with the leaders, not just being happy with fifth. We want to be pushing if we can and putting our rivals under a lot of pressure.”

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