Gold Coaster Chris ‘Atko’ Atkinson has secured his best result at Rally Germany with a fifth place finish at the latest round of the FIA World Rally Championship.
Newly recruited to the factory-supported MINI team, run by Motorsport Italia, the 32-year-old also secured the team its best result of the year despite no previous experience behind the wheel of the MINI John Cooper Works WRC.
“I’m stoked with a top-5 result especially considering the last asphalt-based rally I competed on was back in 2008,” commented Atkinson.
“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 – 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.
“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.”
The ADAC Rally Deutschland was based in Trier in south-west Germany and marked the first complete tarmac rally of the season.
Stages consisted of narrow vineyard terrain coupled with bolderstone-lined roads in the Baumholder military area, which are more accustomed to hosting tank training exercises.
Drivers contested 15 special stages covering 1113.59km during the three-day event with a mixture of wet and dry weather conditions testing the abilities of the world’s best.
Rally Germany : Final Results
1 Sebastien Loeb – Citroen WRT 3:41:52.4
2 Jari-Matti Latvala – Ford WRT +2:00.1
3 Mikko Hirvonen – Citroen WRT +2:31.4
4 Mads Ostberg – Adapta Ford +3:24.4
5 Chris Atkinson – MINI +9:10.4
6 Sebastien Ogier – VW Skoda +9:50.8
7 Andreas Mikkelsen – VW Skoda +12:22.7
8 Nasser Al-Attiyah -Qatar Citroen +12:50.4
9 Ott Tanak -M-Sport Ford +13:01.3
10 Dani Sordo – Prodrive MINI +14:17.3
WRC Round 10, Wales Rally GB, 13-16 September 2012