Stage win for Atkinson in Ireland
- 18th November 2007, 8:30am
The highlight of the day for the young Australian was his stage win, setting the fastest time on the afternoon pass of Sloughan Glen, a daunting 20.95 kilometre test of car and driver.
Sebastien Loeb is well on the way to taking 10 points and the Championship lead. With one day remaining he is in first place, 59.3 seconds ahead of Daniel Sordo, with Jari-Matti Latvala third, one minute 09.2 seconds further back. Mikko Hirvonen is fourth, two minutes 37.6 seconds behind Loeb with Atkinson’s team mate, Petter Solberg, another 15.2 seconds behind in fifth.
Having finished in 60th place on day one, Atkinson was the 17th car through the stages today, and had to contend with dirtier roads than those at the head of the field.
With his chances of a strong finish wiped out after a crash on leg one, the Gold Coast driver ‘s focus was on testing and data acquisition – although he still managed to finish in the top five on four of the day’s stages.
Today’s six stages were just as treacherous, if not more so, than those of leg one. Heavy rain mid-morning cleaned the narrow routes but made the surface even greasier. The rain stopped before the afternoon loop, but drivers were still faced with standing water in the final three stages.
Despite the challenges, Atkinson took plenty from his day.
“It’s been quite a positive day,” Atkinson said. “The engineers made some set-up changes for the afternoon which gave me more front-end grip and a more solid feeling in general – especially through the bumpier sections.”
“That gave me the confidence to drive safely but still fast - and that was quick enough to get a stage win. Obviously most of the other guys have backed off a bit, but at least it’s something for the team and our supporters.”
“It’s basically the same plan for tomorrow. We’re out there to gather information for the engineers and to put on a good show for the fans.”
Sunday’s final leg is the shortest of the event, with only four stages that stretch 60km. After the morning’s loop of three stages to the east of the service park, there is a remote regroup before the spectacular final stage, Mullaghmore, which runs along a cliff edge overlooking Donegal Bay.
Results – End Leg Two, Rally Ireland
1, Loeb / Elena, Citroen C4, 02:30:35.2, 00.0
2, Sordo / Marti, Citroen C4, 02:31:34.5, +59.3
3, Latvala / Anttila, Ford Focus RS WRC 06, 02:32:44.0, +02:08.8
4, Hirvonen / Lehtinen, Ford Focus RS WRC 07, 02:33:12.8, +02:37.6
5, Solberg / Mills, Subaru Impreza WRC2007, 02:33:28.4, +02:53.2
6, Wilks / Pugh, Subaru Impreza WRC, 02:36:27.2, +05:52.0
7, Wilson / Orr, Ford Focus RS WRC 06, 02:39:58.5, +09:23.3
8, Machale / Harryman, Ford Focus WRC, 02:40:42.9, +10:07.7
9, Mikkelsen / Floene, Ford Focus WRC, 02:43:36.5, +13:01.3
10, Araujo / Ramalho, Mitsubishi Evo 9, 02:45:04.9, +14:29.7
29, Atkinson / Prevot, Subaru Impreza WRC2007, 02:57:51.0, +27:15.8
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