Australian rally driver Chris Atkinson believes that running at a consistent pace rather than pushing to the limits will be the way to win this weekend's Group N category at the Telstra Rally Australia that begins in Perth tonight.

However, for those who have seen Atkinson in action throughout 2004 would be fully aware that when the 24-year-old says 'consistency' he refers to being 'consistently fast'.

The Queenslander won three of the six rounds of the Australian Championship this year and has already proven that he has blistering speed in rounds of the World Championship in New Zealand, Finland and Japan.

"I don't think pushing to the limit on every stage will win this event, a slightly conservative approach could well be the way to go. You could do more harm than good by getting a puncture, running of the road or break something on your car," said Atkinson.

"There is a lot of competition in Group N with most of the leading runners in the Production World Championship along with best Australian drivers here. I think it will be a very closely fought battle for the win."

Many international competitors believe that Atkinson will have a 'home country' advantage, however Atkinson is playing down any advantage that he may have.

"A lot of the internationals are referring to this as my 'home' rally. While it is great to compete against the world's best drivers in Australia the roads are very different to the roads on the East coast," said Atkinson.

"It is tough for the international drivers to grasp the concept of how different the roads are on either side of the country, I liken it to living in England with people referring to Greece as your home rally," said Atkinson.

"The stages in this event are more difficult than the stages we use in the Australian Championship over here. The stages in the final day will be the toughest as I expect that the road will be pretty rutted up by then."

After tasting much success with his brother, Ben as his co-driver this will be the first event that Glenn Macneall will be in the co-drivers seat aboard the Prodrive-built Subaru WRX Sti with Atkinson.

"Glenn's experience in this event and the local area will be a huge bonus for this event. So far everything has been working faultlessly in the lead up and I am really looking forward to the weekend," added Atkinson.

Telstra Rally Australia begins tonight with the Perth Super Special stage around Gloucester Park before heading to the forests tomorrow morning to continue the first of three legs.

Over the four days of competition in Telstra Rally Australia Atkinson will compete in 25 special stages across 388.25 competitive kilometres while covering a total of 1426.56 kilometres throughout the event.



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