All to play for on final day of Rallye Monte Carlo
The Subaru Impreza WRC2007 of Chris Atkinson and Stephane Prevot finished today’s stages in third position overall after a day of incredibly challenging and unpredictable conditions. Petter Solberg and Phil Mills also drove a determined day to maintain fifth place overall going into the final day.

Demonstrating just how unpredictable Rallye Monte Carlo can be, Dani Sordo’s demise on SS11 allowed Atkinson to move into third, and increased the stakes in his battle with Ford’s Francois Duval for the final step of the podium. The duo continued to trade split times in a thrilling test of commitment and finesse on the day’s incredibly demanding roads. On the tricky surfaces, Atkinson drove a determined and measured day on the greasy asphalt to stay ahead with one day remaining.

"Both drivers performed exceptionally well today under very demanding conditions to consolidate their positions" said David Richards, Subaru World Rally Team Principal. "Chris was rewarded with the only fastest stage time achieved by anyone other than last year’s World Champions, and he’s clearly set his heart on a podium finish. Petter drove extremely consistently and is ready to take advantage of any problems that the lead few cars encounter. The final day of competition without a full service will be very demanding, especially as it includes the famously challenging Col de Turini."

A stage winner on this loop of stages last year, Atkinson started the day confidently with the third fastest stage time, extending his cushion over rally–long rival Duval. Both hungry to taste the champagne, the duo fought hard throughout the day, their split times varying by just tenths of a second. During a tense afternoon for both teams, the Australian dug deep with a strong run, recording the fastest stage time on SS13 by 7.5 seconds to end the day over 20 seconds clear.

"We were pushing today, and it was so tough! It’s a bigger gap than I had here last year but the adrenaline and pressure is just the same" said Chris Atkinson. "Some say that SS10 is the most dangerous stage as it’s so fast and flowing, but I love it. I won the stage last year and on the second pass today I was pushing to increase the gap over Duval. I had a good feeling through there, but I was still buzzing half an hour afterwards. It’s great to be in third, but we have some difficult stages tomorrow, especially the Col de Turini. It’s a stage that can be dry until you start and then spectators put snow on the road which just makes it so hard to know what to expect going into each corner. Duval knows it a little better than I do, so it’s going to be a challenge but for sure I want third and we’ll be pushing hard to the end."

Solberg and Phil Mills showed consistently strong pace throughout the day and took advantage of Sordo’s problem to move into fifth, putting the team on target of their objective for both cars in the top five. With a comfortable gap behind him to sixth, Solberg continued pushing to consolidate his points–scoring position and remain close enough to take advantage of any problems with the front–runners tomorrow. Setting the fourth fastest time on the closing stage of the morning, the crew made some small changes during the midday service, and Solberg attacked the afternoon more confidently.

"Today has been pretty good for us again and we are in a good position" remarked Petter Solberg. "The roads started very slippery this morning but became more grippy this afternoon. It was tricky to get the balance of the car right and we changed a few things in the middle of the day, but I am happy with fifth and we will keep trying and see what we can do tomorrow. We’ve been pushing hard but it’s so easy to make a mistake when the roads are this narrow and fast you have to be at 110 per cent. I’m looking forward to tackling the Col de Turini tomorrow, but we can expect a tough day. It’s so tricky, anything can happen."

Day three of Rallye Monte Carlo presented crews with the longest competitive distance of the event at just under 133 kilometres. Forty five crews took to the first stage this morning under the cover of darkness and with a temperature of four degrees Celsius. Again, patchy ice dotted the opening stage but there was still no snow, despite rumours that it was on its way.

Leaderboard after Day 3
1. S Loeb/D Elena 2h50m38.8sec
2. M Hirvonen/J Lehtinen +2m10.6sec
3. C Atkinson/S Prevot +3m02.6sec
4. F Duval/E Chevailler +3m22.7sec
5. P Solberg/P Mills +4m11.8sec
6. G Galli/G Bernacchini +7m39.7sec
7. J Cuoq/P Janvier +8m19.7sec
8. P G Andersson/J Andersson +9m31.8sec
9. H Solberg/C Menkerud +11m17.0sec
10. T Gardemeister/T Tuominen +11m23.4sec

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