Chris Atkinson was delighted after finishing in fifth place on Rallye Deutschland last weekend.
Newly recruited to the factory-supported MINI team, run by Motorsport Italia, the 32-year-old managed to secure the team its best result of the year despite no previous experience behind the wheel of the MINI John Cooper Works WRC car.
“I'm stoked with a top-five result especially considering the last asphalt-based rally I competed on was back in 2008,” Atkinson said.
“We definitely took a conservative approach given I have the remaining four rounds of the World Championship to contest but it's a great start and a real confidence booster heading to Rally GB in a few weeks time.”
The result is Atkinson's best at the German-based rally and projects the Australian to 14th overall in the WRC standings despite this being his first point-scoring event for the 2012 season.
Atkinson's mindset now turns to the loose surface as the team heads to Great Britain for one of the most iconic events on the calendar, Wales Rally GB, which runs from September 13-16.
“The MINI is a great car and I'm really looking forward to seeing what its made of on the gravel surface,” he added. “It will still be a big learning curve driving a new car on gravel for the first time but I've been contesting a lot of gravel events in the Asia Pacific Championship this year so it's definitely a surface I have more recent experience of.”