SWRT takes a Disappointing 7th in Spain
Young Atkinson encouraged with speed in Spain

March 27, 2006

Despite slipping outside the top ten on day two of Rally Catalunya, Australian rally driver, Chris Atkinson, finished the day encouraged by his performance on what many consider to be the world?s toughest tarmac event. Atkinson matched the pace of more experienced drivers to end the Leg twelfth overall, despite losing time stuck off the road after a spin on the penultimate stage. The young Queenslander had his Subaru Rally Team Australia backed Impreza WRC05 in eighth place after the opening day, and maintained his place inside the top 10 until the penultimate stage. Twenty kilometers into the stage Atkinson?s car spun and went off on a long fourth gear right-hand corner. Spectators assisted the car back on the road but not before around 90 seconds were lost.

Atkinson bounced back on the next stage, finishing eighth, just 13 seconds slower than Sebastien Loeb, the overnight leader and was taking a lot of positives out of the day. "We?ve had another encouraging day and learnt a lot," Atkinson said. "We made one mistake which cost us a bit of time, but the rest of the stages have been nice and clean and tidy and we?ve been fast, even beating our team-mates at times." "Hopefully we can move up the places that we lost with the mistake, however apart from that there?s not a lot more that we can do."

At then end of the day, Atkinson was 12th overall, with SWRT drivers Petter Solberg in seventh place and Stéphane Sarrazin in eighth position.

Leob is in the lead 34.4 seconds ahead of Danni Sordo, with Alex Bengue third two minutes 5.4 seconds off the pace. Marcus Gronholm is fourth, just 4.1 further back. SWRT Sporting Director Luis Moya was obviously unhappy with the day, but buoyed by the driving of Atkinson. "Yesterday we seemed to be able to be more competitive," Moya said. "However today both Petter and Stéphane were suffering from a continuous lack of grip. We need to work very hard as a team together with Pirelli to improve our performance in these asphalt conditions." "On a positive note all the cars have run trouble free and again, at times, we have seen some good pace from Chris as he builds on his limited tarmac experience." The final Leg of Rally Catalunya comprises 97.82 competitive kilometres over four stages split into two identical loops which include a lengthened stage from the 2005 route and Leg one?s SS5 run in reverse. Leg Two results 1 Loeb / Elena Citröen Xsara 02:24:57.9 2 Sordo / Marti Citröen Xsara +34.4 3 Bengue / Escudero Peugeot 307 WRC +02:05.4 4 Grönholm / Rautiainen Focus RS WRC 06 +02:09.5 5 Kopecký / Schovánek Skoda Fabia WRC +02:23.9 6 Duval / Pivato Skoda Fabia WRC +03:30.2 7 Solberg / Mills Subaru

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