Subaru driver Chris Atkinson answers questions regarding his current championship standing, his goals for the remainder of the season, and the handling of this year's Subaru Impreza WRC amongst other subjects.
How has this year been for you, according to your expectations?
"Okay, we had fairly high expectations at the start and were hoping to be on the podium quite regularly. Unfortunately things haven't gone as smoothly as we'd hoped - such is motorsport - but we're hoping to turn it around in the second half of the year. The car's getting better all the time, the team is working extremely hard, and as long as that development keeps improving then there's every chance we'll be back on target. But overall I'm pretty happy with how I'm driving and I think personally I've done quite a good job."
You've been enjoying a strong run lately, how is team morale?
"It's good for all the guys. I think everyone in the team wants to see fastest times and they want to see us on the podium. You see that in the enthusiasm of the people in the team, especially when you come back and you're leading the rally, like we were in Greece, and when we had good results in Monte Carlo, Mexico - you know. It's been encouraging, but we need to do that more often and start fighting for one place higher. We've had a few fourths, now we need to get into the top three, and then seconds and wins."
What do you want to achieve in the latter half of the season?
"I always have high expectations, perhaps higher than are sometimes realistic, but with fourth places in Finland and New Zealand in the latter half of this year, we are definitely pushing harder than ever for a podium."
How does having a Champion team-mate affect intra-team competition?
"It's a good benchmark for me really, that's the way I look at it. You're competing against everyone out there, that's for sure, and I guess the person you can most easily compare yourself to is the person in the same car as you. The fact that he has been the fastest driver in the world and won a lot of rallies means if I'm doing times near his, or beating him, then I'm doing something right."
As the only Australian driver, do you feel expectations are too high?
"I think the biggest problem was that we were fast straight away in the championship, yet haven't continued as we'd liked to have done. But I think there are some other reasons, like the fact that Petter was winning in 2003 and 2004 then when I joined the team the winning sort of slowed down, so for me that's a bit frustrating. If everything was going well at Subaru, like it has in the past, then we could have been fighting for even higher positions earlier on in our career. But I feel no more pressure than I put on myself really. I just want to do the best job I can each weekend."
What is this year's Subaru Impreza WRC like to drive?
"The instant response of the rally car is incredible. Most people would think that of a normal Impreza turbo, like - 'wow - the acceleration!' But in a rally car it's a completely different world. It's pretty cool. Then, when you take that and put it on a narrow gravel road it's insane. That, and the way it handles the rough and the bumps, and the speed you can take jumps and go over rocks at. Whenever we give passenger rides they are just blown away. It's a lot of fun to drive a World Rally Car but in performance terms you're on a knife edge. It's not easy, and it takes a hell of a lot of concentration to try and balance on that edge."
D.B. © CAPSIS International
Source Subaru WRT