Subaru's upcoming star, Chris Atkinson will face probably his toughest test of the year this weekend, when he makes his tarmac debut aboard a Subaru Impreza WRC on the Rallye Deutschland.

Atkinson has only ever competed on asphalt once before, when he drove a Group N Subaru in a round of the Chinese Rally Championship, as such unsurprisingly his target this weekend is to complete all 19 stages and learn as much as possible.

"This will be my first attempt at a proper WRC tarmac rally and I'm expecting it to be a steep learning curve. This year's all about learning and gaining experience, but this rally is going to be a bigger challenge than normal," said the Aussie.

"With it being my first tarmac event my stage times are not the primary consideration this weekend, instead I'm aiming to achieve a good understanding of the car and set-up and complete the rally. I had a test day last month on tarmac where I felt quite comfortable in the car and have also sat in the car during a test run with both Petter [Solberg] and Stephane [Sarrazin] but this weekend is a whole new challenge.

"The roads are notoriously difficult, with constantly changing surfaces and I'll be trying my best not to get caught out. I've done only one small tarmac rally before, that was in China in a Group N Subaru, but that's the limit of my experience."

The stage conditions this weekend vary between the narrow vineyard roads of the Mosel region with its long, fast straights and 90-degree corners, the smooth roads of Saarland and the bumpy, rough concrete tracks of the Baumholder military ranges. Designed for tank training exercises, the army roads are unlike anything else in the WRC. Flanked by huge, unforgiving concrete kerbstones, the wide asphalt sections are abrasive and dirty, while a fine dusting of sand makes them exceptionally slippery when wet.

"I think the most difficult thing will be predicting the grip levels on the different surfaces. But I've been studying the video footage from previous years and am keen to get out there," he added. "I will be starting off pretty cautiously and be taking in all of the advice from the more experienced people around me from the team over the weekend."

Atkinson will be one of three entries fielded by the SWRT this weekend with Stephane Sarrazin returning to the fold. After his impressive performance in the corresponding round last year Sarrazin joins Solberg as the nominated drivers eligible to score points in the manufacturers' championship.



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