Australian Chris Atkinson finished his home rally and just his second WRC event of the season with the Hyundai Shell World Rally Team, in tenth place after a tough rally
The former APRC Champion struggled to find a good rhythm on the first day dropping him down the order, leading to an early position on the road, which has further impeded his progress. Nonetheless, his drive has helped the team to learn more about the performance of the i20 WRC on the Australian gravel surface, which will be hugely important for next season.
Atkinson said: “I’ve had a pretty steady run and the car was working perfectly. We’ve not been in a position to fight for anything so it’s been important just to bring the car home, so the team can pick up as much information as possible. The stages have been in a good condition and the crowds have been phenomenal. It’s not been the easiest of weekends as I struggled to get into a rhythm early on in the rally and that has had a knock-on effect for the remaining days, as I was first on the road. That has dictated the extent I have been able to push so instead we just focussed on finishing the rally. It’s nice we’ve been able to get all three cars inside the top ten.”
New Zealander (and also former APRC Competitor) Hayden Paddon was the top finishing Hyundai i20 WRC driver, securing a strong sixth position with Belgian driver Thierry Neuville one place further back in seventh.
Paddon was involved in a captivating battle for sixth place. The #20 crew took the position on the penultimate stage (Bucca II 10.83km) following problems for Mads Ostberg but the gap between the two drivers has been a matter of seconds throughout the entire rally. For the Kiwi crew, the sixth place represents more positive progress in the WRC and their best result to date.
Photos: Hyundai and Michael Vettas Photography