Subaru's Chris Atkinson fought back to claim the final spot on the podium on the Rally Finland last weekend, a result that moves him back up into third in the drivers' championship.

Atkinson struggled on the opening leg and finished it in seventh place, 50 seconds or so off P3, after struggling to find a good balance.

On Saturday though, he began a great fight-back and with top-five times in almost every single test - including two third fastest times in SS12 and SS18 - he brought himself right back into contention, overhauling Dani Sordo for third in the final test of the day.

With just one second between the two heading into Sunday's short finale it looked set to be close, but when Dani opted to settle for fourth, Atkinson had a pretty easy run to third and his first rostrum with the new Impreza WRC2008.

The result was especially sweet as the '1000 Lakes' is notoriously difficult for non-Nordic drivers, and that made Atkinson's podium on only his fourth attempt at the event, the second alongside co-driver Stephane Pr?vot, even more satisfying.

"To finish on the podium in Finland is fantastic, it's one of those rallies that you really, really want to do well on and it's great to add it to the CV," stated the Aussie. "The guys did a fantastic job, the car was great and I was just able to keep pushing hard. I really want to thank everybody in the team.

"It's just really cool to be here on the podium the first time in Finland with the new car, and of course it's great to be back in third in the championship. It's been a great weekend, really good."

Asked about those issues on the opening leg, Atkinson was vague on what the specific problem was in the middle loop: "We had some problems but I stayed with the same set up I'd tested with all weekend. We had some issues on the first day but we solved them at the second service and that enabled us to build our confidence. But in Finland it takes a few stages to build up the confidence again so by the second day we were back up to our normal speed," he continued.

As for the improvements made since the Impreza WRC2008 was first seen in Turkey, Chris noted that they are making progress: "There has definitely been a step forward and the car feels more consistent. For the last two days we had no problems and ran at the same pace all the time so that is encouraging," he added.

"But it's not enough - we want to win and we need to go faster so we will keep pushing and developing things. These guys [Sebastien Loeb and Mikko Hirvonen, Citroen and Ford] have been in their cars for a couple of years now while we are still developing and changing things on each rally, so it takes time.

"We know that we were only third here because of Jari-Matti [Latvala]'s mistake [on day 1]. That's a fact - the outright pace wasn't there for us and we have to improve that. We will keep driving the same way and still work as hard as ever and try to improve things."

So what can they do in Germany?

"We had some good times in Germany last year and I hope to do the same again but we have a new car and it will be the first time in hot conditions with new tyres, so it is a different feeling and we need to learn to adapt to that. So I am not sure we will have that same pace straight away but we shall see," he summed-up.


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