Australian Chris ‘Atko’ Atkinson will contest the remaining five rounds of the 2012 FIA World Rally Championship as the number one driver for MINI.
Unfortunately that means Atkinson won’t be competing at Rally Hokkaido, Japan, the 5th round of the 2012 Asia Pacific Rally Championship as it clashes with Rally GB. However with a 45 point lead over nearest rival Alister McRae, the MRF-Racetorque Skoda driver can afford to miss one event and still lead the championship heading to China in October.
Atkinson will compete for the factory-supported WRC Team MINI Portugal and jet set straight from his Gold Coast base to Europe today (Friday) with the WRC heading to Germany for the ADAC Rallye Deutschland next weekend.
“MINI has provided me with an awesome opportunity to return to the World Championship and I’m stoked to be back as a lead driver for a great manufacturer and for the remainder of the 2012 season,” commented an enthusiastic Atkinson. “I love the tarmac so it’s great to know that three of the remaining five events are on the sealed surface and I hope to take full advantage of my past experiences of the remaining rallies this year.”
Atkinson becomes the team’s number one driver, replacing Armindo Araujo who departs the team for sporting reasons. Germany is by no means foreign to the Gold Coast-based driver with Atkinson contesting the event on four occasions prior, with a 100% completion rate and a top result of sixth overall in 2008.
It will be the first time the 32-year-old has driven the MINI John Cooper Works WRC but the Australian is relishing the chance to explore the possibilities of the competitive machinery. “This will be my first time driving for WRC Team MINI Portugal and the MINI John Cooper Works WRC but from the information I have gathered I’m really looking forward to seeing what the MINI is made of in Germany.”
“The car looks great and the MINI brand is all about one big, fun-loving family which is just how I like to roll back on the Gold Coast.” Atko added.
Atkinson will be looking to continue his impressive form this year which sees him lead the FIA Asia Pacific Rally Championship and more recently, set blistering stage times on the Neste Oil Rally Finland despite an absence of four years, from the event. He has an impressive WRC record which consists of 69 events, six podiums, 41 stage wins and 32 points finishes.
The history of Rally Germany is quite similar to Catalunya in that it was originally formed through the amalgamation of three smaller events – the Deutschland, Hunsbruck and Saarland rallies. One of the highlights of ADAC Rallye Deutschland in recent seasons is the inclusion of the Circus Maximus superspecial stage, which runs through the centre of Trier – Germany’s oldest city.
Stages are a delight for competitors and spectators alike, with stages running through the beautiful regions along the banks of the Mosel River as well as taking crews into the Baumholder military complex with its massive, car-destroying, hinkelsteins.