Currently APRC points leader Chris Atkinson will make a shock return to the FIA World Rally Championship in Finland next month, driving a Citroen DS3 WRC for the Qatar World Rally Team in place of Nasser Al-Attiyah who is competing at the Olympic Games in London.
Atkinson, from Australia, is one of the WRC’s fastest drivers but has only managed two appearances in the series since former employer Subaru withdrew at the end of the 2008 season. One of those outings was in a Citroen C4 WRC on Rally Ireland in 2009 where he finished fifth overall.
He made a strong impression with the French squad as Citroen Racing Technologies head Benoit Nogier explained. “Ever since Chris Atkinson took part [on] Rally Ireland, we have kept in touch and maintained good relations with him. As Nasser’s Citroen DS3 WRC was available for [Finland] we offered Chris the chance to lease the car and compete for the Qatar World Rally Team. We are therefore very pleased to have him back with us in one of our customer racing teams for one of the championship’s flagship events.”
Atkinson, who has scored six podiums in 68 starts at world level, last competed on Rally Guanajuato Mexico in March where he drove a Monster World Rally Team Ford Fiesta RS WRC.
He said: “Competing in the best rally in the championship in the best World Rally Car is a superb opportunity and I can’t wait to test the car to share my feeling for it with the team and give them my initial feedback. We don’t want to get ahead of ourselves, but we have got everything it takes to go after a good result here.” Belgian Stephane Prevot will co-drive Atkinson, who finished third in his last appearance on Neste Oil Rally Finland back in 2008.
PHOTO: Marcel Stawiczny