Subaru rally driver, Chris Atkinson, has survived three days and 351 kilometres of testing competition to finish Rally Turkey in sixth place.

Marcus Gronholm won the event from Mikko Hirvonen by two minutes 23.4 seconds, with Henning Solberg third, three minutes 6.0 seconds off the pace.

Atkinson started the day in fourth with just a 1.7 second buffer, but was headed over the final three stages today by Xavier Pons and Kosti Katajamaki after the trio endured a tough tussle.

Pons finished three minutes 27.4 seconds behind Gronholm. Katajamaki was 1.1 seconds further back with the Queenslander another eight seconds behind, just 30.5 seconds off the podium.

Atkinson had his sights set on Henning Solberg’s third place at the start of the final day and on the opening stage took a couple of seconds from the Norwegian’s advantage, reducing it to just 15.9sec.

But his goal of a top three result ended on the next stage when he had a spin and struggled to get the car going quickly, losing time and slipping back to fifth. On the final stage, Pons leapt ahead of both Katajamaki and Atkinson to change the leaderboard once again.

The Gold Coast driver now heads back to his home event, Rally Australia, which starts in Perth on Thursday October 26.

“It’s been a tricky weekend,” Atkinson said. “The speed is encouraging but still we want better results.”

“We struggled with the set-up all weekend, trying to find the right balance, so it’s good to get to the finish and score some more points.”

“We’re sure to be trying in Australia as it’s my home rally. We led there last year and want to get a strong result.”

“It’s important that we finish off the year with some good results so we can get 2007 off to a flying start.”

Results – Rally Turkey

1, Grönholm / Rautiainen, FORD FOCUS RS WRC 06
2, Hirvonen / Lehtinen, FORD FOCUS RS WRC 06, +2:23.4
3, Solberg / Menkerud, PEUGEOT 307 WRC, 3:06.0
4, Pons / Del barrio, CITROEN XSARA WRC, +03:27.4
5, Katajamaki / Alanne, FORD FOCUS RS WRC 04, +3:28.5
6, Atkinson / Macneall, SUBARU IMPREZA WRC 2006, +03:36.5

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