Chris Atkinson is Hyundai’s latest acquisition
Are you, by any chance, a rally driver with WRC experience? Are you looking for work? Chances are, you will end up being hired by Hyundai Motorsport as a test driver!
Silly joke is silly, I apologize, but the well thought out process of bringing mix of experience to the team continues in Hyundai. After signing Juho Hanninen and Bryan Bouffier, Hyundai continued their preparation for 2014 by adding another well known name in rallying, that of Australian hopeful Chris Atkinson. Former Subaru World Rally Team factory driver will join Hanninen and Bouffier at selected test sessions. First date with the i20 WRC is scheduled for next week, private, of course.
Inevitably, arrival of Atkinson will once again start discussions about the justification for such decision, but we’ve learned to ignore such discussions, right? All three drivers are signed to be test drivers, and as far as we know, that has nothing to do with 2014 and full on WRC assault. Hyundai wants the car and the team to be ready for next year, and that’s what Hanninen, Bouffier and Atkinson will be doing this year. When the time comes, Hyundai will name the actual competitors for 2014, and whether any of these three ends up on that shortlist is not really important at this point.
We also don’t know how many cars Hyundai plans to run next year, perhaps they will change their original plans as the season goes on. Too many unknowns at the moment, but one thing is certain, Hyundai are advancing strongly and their project looks very serious, if only a little too private.
Official release follows below.
Hyundai Motorsport integrates Chris Atkinson into test team
Hyundai Motorsport has added a third name to its test driver line-up with confirmation today that Australian WRC driver Chris Atkinson will be part of the team’s testing programme for 2013.
33-year-old Atkinson will be behind the wheel of the i20 WRC for the first time next week in a private test session. The skilled Australian will support Hyundai Motorsport’s main test drivers Juho Hänninen and Bryan Bouffier at selected tests during the remainder of the year.
An experienced member of the FIA World Rally Championship community, Atkinson has a wide knowledge of all the events and terrains featured in the series, as well as a good experience with the current specification World Rally Cars. The Australian is also the reigning FIA Asia-Pacific Rally Champion.
Atkinson recently flew from native Australia to Hyundai Motorsport’s headquarters in Alzenau to have a first glimpse at the i20 WRC, familiarize himself with the team and have a seat fitting ahead of his maiden test.
Hyundai Motorsport Team Principal Michel Nandan said: “It is great to be able to integrate Chris into Hyundai Motorsport testing line-up for this season and I am convinced he will bring a lot of valuable WRC experience. Chris will support the work of our main test drivers Juho and Bryan. With the combined expertise of all three test drivers, we will be able to benefit from thorough and comprehensive input at every test session.”
Chris Atkinson commented: “It is such an exciting project. After visiting the Hyundai Motorsport factory three weeks ago, I am simply impressed by the team’s commitment and achievements so far. I have a lot of experience of many different WRC cars and events, and I will utilise this knowledge to support the development of the 2014 i20 WRC car.”