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Subaru Withdraws Atkinson

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Rally Racing Topics:  Chris Atkinson

Subaru Withdraws Atkinson

Anthony Fontanelle
Amazines.com
November 20, 2007

The Subaru World Rally Team has recently delivered a slice of gloomy news for Chris Atkinson’s fans. The rally team said that Atkinson will not start the third leg. On a positive note, the team said that Subaru’s star driver will still finish under the SupeRally.

Auto Racing Daily reported the SubaruWorld Rally Team has had to withdraw Atkinson from the third leg of the Rally Ireland due to an internal engine problem. On day one, Atkinson lost over 20 minutes when he went off the road in SS4. Overall, he finished leg 2 in the 29th place overall.

"In service last night the team realized there was an internal engine problem, and after looking at the data overnight and at the engine again this morning, there's almost no possibility of the car reaching the end of the rally," explained Subaru's managing director, Richard Taylor. "Reluctantly we've no choice but to withdraw it."

Atkinson however will still ‘finish' under the SupeRally format, in order to pick up points for the team, the report continued. Those points may prove vital come the end of this season. This is because the Banbury-based team is expected to be locked in a close encounter with the Stobart M-Sport Ford Rally Team for third in the manufacturers' championship.

Atkinson noted that he had been happy with his form on day two. What’s more, he was mainly concentrating on testing and data acquisition. This was made after sensing that any hope of a nice result perished day one. The Subaru driver managed to set four top five stage times, including winning SS14.

"It's been quite a positive day,” Atkinson added. “The engineers made some set-up changes for the afternoon which gave me more front-end grip and a more solid feeling in general – especially through the bumpier sections. That gave me the confidence to drive safely but still fast - and that was quick enough to get a stage win.”

“Obviously most of the other guys have backed off a bit, but at least it's something for the team and our supporters. It's basically the same plan for tomorrow [Sunday]. We're out there to gather information for the engineers and to put on a good show for the fans,” he concluded.

Rally Ireland was not good to the Subaru team with Petter Solberg salvaging a fifth place finish for the team while Chris Atkinson was classified 42nd after going off early in the event, a move echoed by Xevi Pons in the sister machine. The team are however fourth in the manufacturers' standings, just one point behind the Stobart Ford team.

“Our results here have been disappointing however we have made some positive steps with chassis development for the future," said Richard Taylor, the Subaru World Rally Team Managing Director. "Petter and Chris have scored manufacturers' championship points keeping up a close competition for third overall as we head to Wales Rally GB.”

Didier Martin, a BFGoodrich Rally technician, explained that this was a tough challenge for the team sponsored by the Subaru starter manufacturer. "This was our last tarmac rally with Subaru, and certainly the most difficult. With only one year together we didn't get the time to fully develop the partnership between the Impreza and the g-Force Profiler for the most demanding asphalt. Nevertheless, we were capable of fighting with Ford and Citroën this year on sealed surface, which is a positive point," he concluded.

The WRC is headed to Wales, United Kingdom for the final round of this rally season in two weeks time. Wales Rally GB, which covers an arduous series of gravel stages that stretch into the Welsh mountains from the service park in Swansea, is set from 30 November to 2 December.

Source:  Amazines.com



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