Drop by drop – the term applies equally to the weather and the tactics: On the final day of the Rally Great Britain, Chris Atkinson fought his way through the drizzle to the finish.
Getting to know car and team: that was the minimum target; taking away something tangible, a bonus. A consistent, safe drive to the finish was the chosen style. Yet, a championship point slipped through Chris “Atko” Atkinson’s fingers in, literally, the final minutes. Having started the 19th special stage in tenth place overall with a comfortable cushion, suspension failure was responsible for the day’s drama. Atko limped to the stage finish – five seconds too late for a world championship point.
On the third rally day the weather decided to leave the WRC circus with a final impression of “typical Wales”. Constant drizzle in Cardiff Bay once again ensured slippery, muddy special stages. Precisely the conditions the Rally Great Britain is renowned for.
Double trouble for MINI
“During the night before the third rally day we changed something on the set-up, which had a positive result,” said Atko. “Unfortunately a sensor failed, leaving us without a gear indicator, so the day was not as perfect as we had imagined. However, I still felt increasingly comfortable with the MINI as the rally progressed.”
Then came suspension failure. “We didn’t hit anything – at first I thought it was a puncture,” explained Atko at the stage finish.
Having lain 13th for a considerable period of time, Atko profited from the retirement of Ott Tanäk, who withdrew from the rally on the third-last stage with suspension damage. Then, on ‘SS 19, Atko’s ill-luck struck. However, Tanäk and Atko were not the only unfortunate ones: Paulo Nobre, Atko’s team-mate in the WRC Team MINI Portugal, was forced to retire his MINI John Cooper Works WRC en route to the Port Talbot test – SS17 – with battery problems.
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