Australian driver Chris Atkinson ‘Atko’ has finished fifth in his first World Rally Championship event in a MINI John Cooper Works Countryman at Rally Germany.
The Queenslander was the top non-Citroen or Ford in the rally and gave the MINI team its best result of the year.
“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 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.”
Atkinson was nine minutes and 10 seconds behind rally winner Sebastian Loeb. The reigning world champion cruised home to beat the Ford driver home by almost exactly two minutes. Fellow Citroen driver Mikko Hirvonen finished third a further 30 seconds behind.
Rally Germany 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