Atkinson set for ‘massive’ Mexico opportunity

Al Qassimi’s stand-in aiming for top five in Leon

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By www.wrc.com

28 February 2013 - 11:36
Atkinson set for ‘massive’ Mexico (...)

Chris Atkinson is hoping a good performance on the forthcoming Rally Guanajuato Mexico will lead to more WRC outings this year.

The Australian, 33, will drive a factory spec DS3 next week when he stands in for Abu Dhabi Citroën Total WRT driver Khalid Al Qassimi, who is unable to take part in the rally.

Atkinson tested the DS3 in Portugal for one day last week, completing 150 kilometres in conditions that weren’t typically Mexican.

“Unfortunately the weather wasn’t very good, it was raining on and off, so not great preparations for the dust and heat we’re expecting,” he told wrc.com. “Luckily I already know the car a bit from Rally Finland last year, so this was more about familiarization, getting in some extra miles and adjusting the set-up a little."

“It’s already a great car so there wasn’t really a lot of work to do. Mikko drove in dry conditions earlier in the test and he had shown that the set-up worked, so I didn’t steer too far away from his settings.”

Atkinson was a Subaru works team driver from 2004 until 2008 when the manufacturer withdrew from the series. He tackled six WRC rounds in 2012, including Mexico, and is hoping to showcase his ability again on his return to the Leon-based event.

“I think the rally suits my driving style,” he said. “I’ve always had decent results in Mexico and we won a stage there last year. Hopefully we can do a good job this time and get a decent points haul for the Abu Dhabi team. We’re not going there to go absolutely flat out but obviously we’re going to try our best. Top five is a good target. I think we’d be happy with that.”

“I’d love to be back in a full-time drive, and the opportunity to drive a factory Citroen is massive for me. I don’t know where this will lead but I’d love to do a few more WRC events this year. We’ll have to wait and see.”

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