Atkinson encouraged by Mini debut

Fri, 24 Aug 16:06:07 2012

Chris Atkinson declared himself pleased with his pace on his first morning of competition in the Mini World Rally car.

The Australian has been drafted into the Motorsport Italia-run Team Mini Portugal operation to replace Armindo Araujo. That means Atkinson now has experience of all three factory WRC machines, having driven the Monster Ford Fiesta in Mexico and Nasser Al-Attiyah's Qatar Citroen DS3 in Finland.

After a cautious start to Rally Deutschland, Atkinson holds ninth place going into Friday afternoon's stages.

"I've been really careful this morning," said Atkinson. "I said that, at the end of the event, I wanted to be around 0.5 seconds per kilometre off Dani [Sordo's] pace and we're there now, so that's good.

"I'm not taking risks here. There are corners out there where I would be flat out if I'd been here and done a good recce for the last four years; in some of these places I'm having a little bit of a lift and just having a look at the corner."

Atkinson said he would not be making radical changes to the car.

"I haven't driven on asphalt for three and a half years," said Atkinson, "so this event is really about focusing on me and my driving - we know the car is up to the job. Finishing between sixth and 10th is my target and we're on for that right now."

He added: "The balance is very, very good and the engine has good power and delivers it in a very linear way - it's a very driveable car."


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