German 5th place a ‘confidence boost’ for Chris Atkinson
Australian World Rally Championship star, Chris ‘Atko’ Atkinson has declared his weekend result in Rallye Deutschland a huge confidence boost ahead of the remaining four events of the 2012 WRC season that he will complete with the official factory MINI team.
“It was awesome to get the result we did and get some points on the board,” Atkinson exclusively said to Speedcafe.com upon his return to Australia this morning.
“It’s a very small team – much smaller than the Ford or Citroen teams that I’ve raced with this year, but the passion every single member of the team has is phenomenal.
“The result was much more than we hoped going into the rally, so everyone left the event feeling really motivated.”
In his first event for the team and in a MINI WRC car, the fifth placing obtained by Atkinson is the highest placing by the team in the 2012 WRC season. Impressively, he finished ahead of Dani Sordo (who has been racing the Prodrive MINI WRC since the beginning of last season) to be the first MINI home.
He says the rally was difficult in some respects due to conserving the car and aiming for consistency over outright speed.
“We always knew going into the rally that if we kept a steady pace and were consistent right throughout the weekend that a reasonable result would come,” he observed. “It’s hard to take the decision not to go flat out and be conservative, but given it was the first time for myself and Stephane (Prevot – co-driver) in the MINI – and the team was looking for a good result – its the decision we had to take and it was the right one.”
The next event on the calendar is Wales Rally GB in a little over two weeks, which moves from its traditional end of year date to September this year, Atkinson expects the change in conditions to suit the MINI John Cooper Works Countryman WRC.
“Normally, the stages are really wet and muddy at the end of the year, Rally GB is really difficult,” he concluded. “This time around being in September we’re expecting it to be dry and abrasive. They are really good stages and should suit the MINI.”
Atkinson will jet out of Australia next week for the UK where he will prepare for one of the best attended rallies on the World Championship tour.