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GP Week : 06-May-2008
C HRIS Atkinson was a virtual unknown when Subaru World Rally Team announced that he would join Solberg in their team for the 2005 rally season. He came from a country that had no form in breeding international rallymen – a country which hardly flickered on the rally driver radar. He had never rallied a World Rally Car, and his WRC experience was limited to just four appearances in Group N or Super 1600 cars. And suddenly he was rubbing shoulders with the greats of the sport, and since then has been getting better and better. He is well into his fourth season at the top end of the business, and Jordan was the fourth time this year he had finished with a podium result, in a car still reckoned to be off the pace. The Aussie is settling in well. A victory, surely, cannot be far away. “This is an interesting business,” he says. “You always set yourself goals. Maybe I had expected things to have progressed a little bit faster than they have. I would have liked to have had a win by now but that hasn’t happened and that is the way life is. But I can’t complain. Hopefully things have started to turn in the right direction. “It’s fantastic to work with any team like this. Subaru are so pro-active and have so much enthusiasm. When you go to rallies you also see all the passion among the their supporters. They support the brand because of the company’s history and stature in rallying, even when things are not going so well.” According to Atkinson, teams are all about the people working there. “Working with Petter Solberg is definitely interesting. He is an extremely quick and experienced driver. You try to learn as much as you can from someone like that while developing your own ideas as well. “Team-mates are always someone you benchmark yourself against. Petter is the only person using the same car in the same circumstances and he is the only person I can rate myself against. He is obviously my target, and over the last two years we have each had times when one is having a better run than the other. “And as our car gets better, we hope we get closer to each other all the time at the top.” Now paired with Stephane Prevot, Atkinson is on his third regular co-driver in four years. “I started off with my older brother Ben. How we were going to progress working together in this business was something we had been wondering about for a while. Ben and I worked very well together in the car but he did not feel he wanted to step up to the commitment of competing full time at world championship level. “He has continued in the sport, and has been a really good co-drive with Cody Croker. “The chance to go with Glenn Macneall 38