De­but im­presses Citroen

An Aus­tralian ju­nior wins praise for an Ir­ish out­ing, writes CRAIG DUFF

Herald Sun - Motoring - - Front Page -

AFIFTH place for Chris Atkin­son in his first World Cham­pi­onship Rally event for Citroen has earned the ad­mi­ra­tion of the French team.

Atkin­son was driv­ing the C4 for the first time and was quickly on the pace in last week­end’s Rally of Ire­land, de­spite three mishaps dur­ing the rally.

The team for­got to pin down the bon­net and it flew up and smashed the wind­screen.

Atkin­son then had two mi­nor ‘‘offs’’, but the rain was so bad most driv­ers were us­ing snow tyres to max­imise grip.

Off­set­ting his crashes were 11 top-five stage times, many only just be­hind race win­ner Se­bastien Loeb.

Citroen team boss Benoit Nogier was im­pressed. ‘‘Chris’s fifth po­si­tion is an ex­cel­lent re­sult and we hope he’ll be back with the Citroen Ju­nior Team as soon as pos­si­ble,’’ he says.

‘‘He has shown, again, that he can mix it with the best driv­ers in the world.’’

Atkin­son was in fourth place on the fi­nal day, but con­ceded the po­si­tion to Hen­ning Sol­berg.

‘‘I braked too late,’’ he says. ‘‘The car got away from me. It slid one way, then snapped back the other.

‘‘We hit a power pole on Stephane’s (Prevot, co-driver) side of the car. Stephane has a bit of a sore shoul­der, but I think he’ll be OK. Con­se­quently, we lost a minute.

‘‘Fourth place would have been a good re­sult but I’m not go­ing to be dis­ap­pointed by a top five plac­ing in such a dif­fi­cult event. ‘‘I was still learn­ing the Citroen C4 WRC on this rally. The car was quick and re­li­able, and the Citroen Ju­nior Team helped me make a lot of progress. I hope to drive the car again very soon!’’

No lemon: Chris Atkin­son drives a C4 in the FIA World Rally in Sloughan Glen, Ire­land.

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