WRC » 17 March 2006
Q&A: Chris Atkinson - EXCLUSIVE.
by Rob Wilkins.
Subaru's Chris Atkinson is one of the FIA World Rally Championship's upcoming young stars. The Aussie had his first full season in the WRC in 2005 and now heads into his second year with the SWRT. Here Crash.net Radio caught up with Chris prior to next weekend's Rally Catalunya, to get his thoughts on his season to date, the new Impreza and loads more...
Chris, this is your second full-season in the FIA WRC, how are you finding things thus far?
Obviously it started out really well for us in Monte Carlo - a lot better than we expected down there and we got away with some points as well. Both Sweden and Mexico weren't as good, but we still got some points out of Mexico and ok, the pace was there to easily finish on the podium, but we had problems in both of those events. In Sweden I made a mistake and then we caught a rock on the line in Mexico, which caused us some troubles. So not ideal, but still not too bad.
There have been a few changes in the WRC over the winter, some manufacturers' have quit, what do you make of the new Manufacturer 2 category? Has it plugged the gap?
Definitely, the competition is pretty much the same as last year. A lot of these so called private teams have very good cars and drivers. So the competition is as fierce as last year, I think. You have just got to look at the entry for Monte Carlo or coming up in Spain - where there are well over 20 WRC cars, so it is not like there is a thin pack there.
We've had three events to date, you have scored 5 points, your best result a sixth place finish in Monte Carlo - were you surprised to finish in the points on your debut at the Principality?
We sort of knew that if we got through the rally we could be in with a chance of points. We made a good tyre call on the first day and managed to be second at the end of it, which was far better than we expected. We knew we would drop back a bit on day two, but after that start, we were in a good position to score points. Our consistency and our times, especially on the first and last day were really encouraging.
Did you find the events in Sweden and Mexico easier the second time round, having done them in '05?
Sweden is still a hard one to get you're head around. It was only my second snow rally. OK the pace was alright, but we have still got a bit to learn on that.
Coming to Mexico we were aiming for a top four or five finish and we easily had the pace to do that. So I guess it made it a lot easier [having done it before]. Where as last year we could do good times occasionally, this year we could do them all the time. And while we weren't on the pace of the leading three, we were right behind them and could do it consistently. We were just unlucky with a rock. But we still got back to seventh after the SupeRally to get a couple more points for the season.
I guess in light of that you are a fan of the SupeRally then?
That's the way it is. You have to work with the rules you've got. If it wasn't like that then I wouldn't have got points. Sometimes it goes your way, sometimes it doesn't - that's rallying at the moment. I am definitely not complaining but it is just the way the rules are.
Generally speaking how are you finding the new Impreza?
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