Aussie hopeful of a factory drive in 2010

WHILE Australian rally driver Chris Atkinson has missed out on a seat in Repco Rally Australia next week, he is excited at the prospect of reigniting his career with a factory drive next year.

Rumours abound that several manufacturers have been linked with a move to the World Rally Championship and the Gold Coast driver feels the Championship offers something different to other motor sports - real value.

“I would love to have more manufacturers in the championship, obviously,” Atkinson said.

“There are lots of car brands out there that can see the great value for money that the WRC offers. The WRC would cost about a tenth of anything else and, you never know, they could come away with a championship win in the first year.

“Having experienced drivers like Petter (Solberg) and me really wanting to get back into factory cars, and challenge for the championship, will also hopefully be a great incentive for potential manufacturers looking to get involved.”

Atkinson and Solberg were the factory drivers for the high-profile Subaru team which pulled out of the WRC due to the credit crunch.

Having participated once this year at Rally Ireland as part of the Citroen Junior WRC Team, where he finished fifth, Atkinson is hoping the speculation of new manufacturers turns into reality as his season away from the wheel has galvanised his desire to race even more.

“I have continued as if I was still driving day to day, with running and training, but being away has only made me want to come back more,” Atkinson said.

“It's a bit of a waiting game to see if there are any seats for 2010, to be honest, but I want to be in a factory drive.”

Despite not driving in his home round, Atkinson will be paying special attention as his brother, Ben, will be take part in the P-WRC as a co-driver for Cody Crocker.

“Rally Australia is set to be a really good one. I imagine it will be similar to Rally New Zealand, with a great setting beneath the volcanoes and mountains,” he said.

“The surface is pretty hard packed and, despite the odd possible thunderstorm, I expect it will produce some really close stage times.

“Hopefully it will go down to the wire and we will see some great rallying like we had last time in Finland.”

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