Australians in top spots at Rallye New Caledonia

Proton driver Chris Atkinson leads the Rallye Of New Caledonia after 13 stages. The Australian had a reasonably untroubled run through the second day of competition while his rivals seemed to hit problems. “Like everyone we struggled this morning when it was so slippery, but with the roads drying through the day its been more predictable.We had a drive-shaft problem that lost us some tme, but we still have reasonably safe buffer, but you can never relax” said Atkinson at last service.

Countrymen Nathan Quinn put on a brilliant display, despite not having the latest or the best equipment. With front and rear bumpers missing Quinn at last service for the day was dismissive of his achievements

“we made a lot of mistakes especially this morning but through the day we’ve improved and worked out the right pace. These roads and conditions are so different to anything we have in Australia”.

Rifat Sungkar started the day in the lead but got stuck in Stage 6, “Scott was out of the car pushing and we lost over a minute and half. Its still possible to win so tomorrow I’m going to keep pushing”. Sungkar is 1 minutes and 8 seconds behind Atkinson.

Katsu Taguchi is 4th overall, Subhan Aksa 5th and Alister McRae 6th. MCRae is over 4 minutes behind his team-mate after over-heating problem. “Its very frustrating having to keep to six and half thousands revs, its actually harder to drive with less revs, but at least we’re still in the hunt and in the points” said the Scotsmen.

Retirements include Jean-Louis Leyraud who crashed off on Stage 5, Jari Ketama with a blown turbo, Daniel Palau retired with suspension problems and Gaurav Gill out on Stage 11 after hitting a bridge and removing the front suspension.

Tomorrow there is another 81 kilometres of special stages, but the roads have got progressively rougher.

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