Chris “Atko” Atkinson mastered difficult conditions to reach the finish of the Rallye de France in eighth overall and best-placed MINI WRC driver.
Monsoon-like rain, water puddles on the course, slippery marsh conditions in the corners: The conditions on the third and final day of the Rallye de France could hardly have been more challenging. Even the newly-crowned 2012 World Rally champion Sébastien Loeb, who scored the ninth world title of his illustrious career in France, fought with difficult conditions, on the first stage of the day even sliding off course, and landing in a field.
Chris “Atko” Atkinson of the WRC Team MINI Portugal avoided such rallycross antics to bring his MINI John Cooper Works WRC bearing car number 12 safely home. “Tough conditions on the stages. We are cruising – no problem,” said Atko after the 19th of a total of 22 stages, the Australian having moved into eighth place overall after Dani Sordo, driving a MINI WRC for the Prodrive WRC Team, retired for safety reasons with a power steering issue.
Atko finishes eighth with the MINI WRC.
After Dani had fought a hard three-way fight with Thierry Neuville and Mads Ostberg over fourth place, it was Atko’s turn to assume the role of lead driver as he benefitted by moving into eighth place. “I am more experienced on gravel. So while driving on tarmac here in France, I am happy with the result. In spite of the changing conditions during the last days, the MINI has been very good. I had a constant pace and learned a lot from the event,” said Atko. “Now I am looking forward to Sardinia, where we will compete on loose surfaces.”
Yvan Muller and Romain Dumas will soon again be competing with hard surfaces under their wheels. The two circuit racing experts enjoyed their respective excursions into the world of rallying. Yvan, the reigning World Touring Car champion, ended the Rally de France in 14th place overall after consistently improving in the second Prodrive MINI WRC – as evidenced by his performances on the 18th and 19th special stage, where he set the fourth- and fifth-fastest times respectively. Romain, in the number 69 MINI WRC, ended two places adrift of Yvan in 16th place.
The team at MINI Motorsport heartily congratulates Sébastien Loeb on his ninth world title, and thanks all MINI WRC crews for an exciting Rallye de France. Now it off for the Rally Italia in Sardinia (18-21 October). Go MINI.
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