Superb result for the WRC Team MINI Portugal on the Rallye Italia: Chris “Atko” Atkinson repeats his previous best result on the Rallye Italia in Sardinia, namely the sixth place he posted on the WRC round in 2008 – in the process providing the MINI marque with its best gravel result of the current season.
Sunday saw the Mediterranean island host just two special stages totalling 16,48 kilometres: SS15, known as Gallura 1, and the Power Stage, a repeat of SS15, with both being held before noon. Atko once again tried his all to pressure Sébastien Ogier with a view to displacing him for fifth position overall. “He’s doing a very good job,” said Chris about Ogier after the first of the day’s stages. “We’re on the limit, and couldn’t do much more.”
Paulo Nobre up to the challenge
That he was unable to finish higher than fifth was due to tyre damage suffered by the Australian during the final Power Stage. Atko suffered a “flat”, in the process losing a few vital seconds over the final four kilometres, but still managing to bring his MINI John Cooper Works WRC safely to the finish. However, he was still able to ensure that sixth place on arguably the toughest gravel rally of the season remained in the bag.
On Sunday Atko’s team-mate Paulo Nobre was once again forced to run first on the challenging gravel stages. “Being the first on the road is a challenge. But, as I said before: it’s just one more challenge,” said Paulo after finishing 19th. “We finished,” added the Brazilian, who suffered an accident during Thursday qualifying. “I’m very, very happy. Palmeiras fans simply never give up!”