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Subaru rally driver Chris Atkinson had a trouble-free run on the final day of Rallye de France to hold his overnight sixth place and collect three more World Rally Championship points.

Atkinson has now moved to sixth place in the driver’s championship having collected points in nine of the 13 events contested this season.

Sebastien Loeb took the honours in France and has moved to within four points of the series leader Marcus Gronholm as a result.

Loeb won in Corsica by 23.7 seconds from Gronholm with Daniel Sordo third, a further 20.6 seconds back.

Gronholm now has 104 points with Loeb closing quickly on 100. Mikko Hirvonen, who was out of the top eight on this event, remains in third place on 74 points. Sordo has 45 points, Petter Solberg, who finished fifth in this event, has 38 points, and Atkinson is next on 29, now one ahead of Henning Solberg.

Atkinson was happy to again collect points but the Queenslander had been looking for a better outright result coming into the weekend.

“This weekend was not quite what we had expected and the result is not as good as we wanted, but we have collected some good points again and as a team have learnt a lot ahead of Japan,” Atkinson said.

“We saw yesterday that the car is capable of good pace with third fastest on SS9, but there is still speed to come.”

“A big area for us to work on is my confidence in the car on the smooth asphalt. The surface here over the three legs has been so varied, between bumpy and smooth, that it has been hard to develop a good rhythm.”

Next up on the 2007 WRC calendar, and the third rally in the month of October, is Subaru’s home event, Rally Japan.

The host city of Obihiro will be a blur of blue and yellow as Subaru’s loyal fans head to their national round of the series. The event starts with a spectacular opening ceremony in the middle of the town on 25 October, with the competitive action getting underway on the 26th.

Results – Rallye de France

1, Loeb / Elena, Citroën C4 WRC, 03:28:31.5, 00.0
2, Grönholm / Rautiainen, Ford FOCUS RS WRC, 03:28:55.2, +23.7
3, Sordo / Marti, Citroën C4 WRC, 03:29:15.8, +44.3
4, Latvala / Anttila, Ford FOCUS RS WRC, 03:31:02.0, +02:30.5
5, Solberg / Mills, Subaru IMPREZA WRC, 03:31:13.6, +02:42.1
6, Atkinson / Prevot, Subaru IMPREZA WRC, 03:32:25.3, +03:53.8
7, Kopecky / Schovanek, Skoda FABIA WRC, 03:36:34.4, +08:02.9
8, Pons / Amigo, Subaru IMPREZA WRC, 03:38:05.7, +09:34.2
9, Solberg / Menkerud, Ford FOCUS RS WRC, 03:38:43.7, +10:12.2
10, Solá / Del barrio, Peugeot 207 S2000, 03:46:29.1, +17:57.6

Driver’s Championship

1, M Grönholm, 104
2, S Loeb, 100
3, M Hirvonen, 74
4, D Sordo, 45
5, P Solberg, 38
6, C Atkinson, 29
7, H Solberg, 28
8, J Latvala, 24

Manufacturers’ Championship

1, BP-Ford World Rally Team, 179
2, Citroen Total World Rally Team, 147
3, Subaru World Rally Team, 71
4, Stobart M-Sport Ford Rally Team, 64
5, OMV Kronos Citroen World Rally Team, 39
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