Atkinson, in a MINI John Cooper Works World Rally Car, trails the less powerful and less advanced Skoda Fabia S2000 of Sebastien Ogier by 3.9s having struggled with various handling issues throughout the FIA World Rally Championship round.
“I’ll fight to get fifth,” said Atkinson. “It will be a tough battle but I’ll fight to get Ogier. We made some changes to the car for Saturday afternoon but there’s still room for improvement because I wasn’t confident.”
At the completion of Saturday’s six stages, Atkinson’s co-driver, Stephane Prevot, said: “It’s been a frustrating day. Something doesn’t feel right in the car, but we can’t work out exactly what. We clipped a bank on the third corner of stage 14 and it cost us around 15 seconds, which we really needed to stay ahead of Ogier. The main problem seems to be that on rougher stages like stage 14, we loose some chassis control and without too many kilometres under our belt, we sometimes end up testing the car on the stages.”