by Rob Wilkins
TO HEAR THE INTERVIEW IN FULL WITH CHRIS ATKINSON: CLICK HERE
Subaru's Chris Atkinson
got his 2008 season off to a fabulous start on the Rallye Monte Carlo when he brought his Impreza WRC car home in third place after an exciting battle with Stobart
Ford's Francois Duval. Crash.net Radio
caught up with the Aussie recently to chat about that and the next round in the championship, the Swedish Rally, which takes place this weekend...
Chris, congratulations on that podium result in Monte Carlo - how much of a boost was it?
It was quite cool. Obviously it is great for the team and all the guys that have been working really hard - it is nice for them as well. It is brilliant to get on the podium -there weren't so many last year for the team and it is good to start the season with a rostrum.
Did you enjoy the battle with Francois Duval and did that fight make the result even sweeter?
It was a bit stressful. He was always there and on a couple of stages he was taking quite a bit of time out of me. I was always worried and it was never guaranteed. It went right down to the wire. It was difficult - but I guess at the end it was sweeter because of the effort and the challenge to hold him off like that.
It was of course your second podium finish in the WRC, after you also took a rostrum result in Japan in 2005. Did you think you would have to wait so long to get back in the top three?
I had hoped it would be a lot quicker than what it has been. It's not perfect. There have been a few opportunities that have maybe passed by at times. But the main thing now is that we are back there and hopefully there are no more gaps like that again.
Do you think the result at the Principality was an indication of some of the progress made by Subaru over the off season or was it a bit deceiving?
I think it is a good result. We had a good result on the Monte last year as well and we were fourth. I guess now Marcus [Gronholm] has retired that creates an opportunity to move up like we did. Mikko [Hirvonen] has stepped up too though and he is driving quite well. It is a good sign. It is a stronger entry list than last year. You have got people like Duval and [Gigi] Galli in Fords and they are driving quite well. There is a lot of competition for that final spot on the podium.
Sweden is next up, how much are you looking forward to it?
It should be great. As long as the conditions are good it is an awesome event to compete on for the drivers. It is really, really sweet. It is massive fun and if everything is working well it is hard to have much more fun in a car.