Atkinson confident of Finland pace
Qatar World Rally Team driver not dismissing podium possibility
Chris Atkinson says he has no concerns about being competitive when he returns to the FIA World Rally Championship on Neste Oil Rally Finland next month.
Atkinson has clinched a one-off drive with the Qatar World Rally Team for what will be only his third start in the WRC since the end of the 2008 season and his first appearance in Finland since that year.
The Australian will test his Citroen DS3 WRC for one day in Finland before the rally and plans to take heart from his previous appearance for Citroen when he tackled Rally Ireland in a C4 WRC in 2009.
“I’m sure I’ll be able to get up to speed with the car pretty quickly,” Atkinson told Autosport.com. “That was the case in 2009. Okay, we had some different conditions, but by the end of Rally Ireland we were able to beat Sebastien [Loeb] on some of the stages. I’m not saying that’s going to happen in Finland, but I know I’ve still got the speed to be driving full time in the championship.”
In terms of where he believed he could finish the high-speed gravel event, Atkinson said: “It’ll be hard to compete with the top three or four guys who are out there and racing continuously, but last time I was in Finland I was running seventh and then hit some top-three stage times and pulled up to third at the end. A podium’s not out of the question again this time.”
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