Another podium for Chris

Another podium for ChrisFrom Subaru Press [ 27/04/2008 ].
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Chris Atkinson and Stéphane Prévot secured a podium finish on the final day of the Jordan Rally after another day of change amongst the front-runners. The only entry for the Subaru World Rally Team today, the duo snatched a step of the podium as those in front stumbled to make it three podiums in a row.




Only Atkinson restarted the final day this morning, as Petter was sidelined just before the close of day two. Holding fourth position from yesterday, an intense battle for position between the top three meant that anything was likely to happen, and Chris was there to pick up the pieces.

Surely enough, it was Ford’s Latvala who hit problems during stage 18, losing almost 50 seconds during the stage and carrying his handicap into the longest test of the rally, the River Jordan stage. Atkinson continued with his steady strategy, which was sufficient to take him into third position midway through the stage and his fourth podium from five rounds this season.

“Yet again Chris has shown his consistency to ensure another podium position and maintain third position in the Drivers’ Championship” said David Richards, Subaru World Rally Team Principal. “I’m sure Chris is now looking forward to getting his hands on the new car and being able to challenge at the front.”

It is the first time since the beginning of 2005 that any one driver has recorded three consecutive podiums for the Subaru World Rally Team, when Solberg and Mills secured their trio in Mexico, New Zealand and Sardinia.

With a comfortable gap behind him to fourth position, the Australian was able to complete the afternoon’s three stages at a consistent pace, taking no unnecessary risks to reach the finish. His result ensures Atkinson maintains his third place in the Drivers’ Championship standings.

“We scored good points again and it’s good for us and good for the team as it keeps us close to the guys at the front of the championship” said Chris Atkinson. “It was a difficult rally for us as almost from the start we were in the middle of nowhere with big gaps in front and behind of us. We managed to go along at our own pace, keeping it on the road.

“We had some hard times when things weren’t going well but we managed to get through. It was a bit of misfortune for others, but lucky for us. Sometimes that’s just how it goes. We’ve still got a lot of work to do and we want to be more competitive on pace and pushing for wins, but four podiums from five rallies is a very consistent start for us so with that I’m happy.”

Sunday was the rally’s longest and most demanding day, pitting competitors against six stages including two gruelling runs of the longest stage of the rally, and indeed of the season so far. The aptly-named Jordan River stage twisted along the banks of the Jordan River for an intensely physical 41.5 kilometres.

Crews awoke to thunder, lightning and heavy rain, although this was short lived and the baking soon broke through the cloud cover and dried the stages. Nevertheless, the surface of today’s tests was looser than that of previous days and the roads were very slippery.

Next event
In just two weeks competitors will trade the deserts of Jordan for the roads of Sardinia for the sixth round of the World Rally Championship. The soft and almost sandy gravel stages of the island are incredibly loose and can cause the cars to wander under hard acceleration or braking as the surface beneath them shifts. In the lush Italian hills, temperatures can soar but routes can quickly become dampened by the ever-present chance of rain. The stages are very flowing, meaning it is vital that crews get into a good rhythm from the outset in order to attack fully.