Atkinson in top spot
NEW South Welshman Chris Atkinson will head into this month's International Rally of Queensland on the Sunshine Coast in the Asia Pacific Championship lead.
But it will be his Indian teammate Guarav Gill who will have the wind at his back.
Gill won the second round of the championship at the waterlogged Rallye de Nouvelle Caledonie in New Caledonia on the weekend.
Atkinson, who took round one at New Zealand last month, maintained his position at the top of the leaderboard after finishing second behind Gill.
Heading into the May 25-27 International Rally of Queensland, MRF team's Atkinson sat on 64 points, eight ahead of Gill.
Only eight drivers crossed the finish line in New Caledonia after hot and wet conditions wreaked havoc on the field.
Gill managed to bypass most of the drama to claim 19 stage victories and the overall win.
"I'd really like to thank the team for this one, it was due to them we could keep going," Gill said.
"Everyone had issues and I'm sorry for what happened to Chris but the main thing is that it's still a one-two finish for MRF and the whole team can celebrate,"
Atkinson finished five minutes behind Gill with New Zealand's Brian Green in third.
Two-time Junior World Rally Champion PG Andersson of Sweden, who took Atkinson's place at rival team Proton this season, set the early pace but was stopped twice by electrical problems caused by water crossings and eventually retired.
Scotland's Alister McRae, the defending APRC champion, was out of contention on day one with suspension failure although he returned to claim three special stage wins.
International Rally of Queensland will also serve as rounds of the Australian Rally Championship, the Australian Classic Rally Series, Australian Side by Side Rally Challenge and Queensland Rally Championship.
RALLY OF QUEENSLAND
Dates: May 25-27.
Involves: 230km of stages on the Sunshine Coast hinterland.
Tickets: From $20. Available from Caloundra Events Centre or rallyqueensland.com.au.