Dani Sordo, Juho Hanninen and then Chris Atkinson, that is the order in which the three drivers/crews will compete in the second Hyundai i20 WRC at the start of this season. Dani had his chance and he did a very good job in Monte Carlo up until the car developed some kind of glitch and Spaniard was forced out of the event. Juho Hanninen is next up and he will tackle the snowy forests and crests in Sweden. Following that, it’s time to jump over the Atlantic and head to Mexico, because WRC could use some tanning at this point.
Chris Atkinson and co-driver Stephane Prevot will join Hyundai regular Thierry Neuville for what will be third event of the year – traditionally dusty, sunny, challenging Rally Mexico. It will be a first proper test of Hyundai’s pace and level of performance in conditions different to those in two winter events in Monaco, or should we just say France, and Sweden. The speed WAS there in Monte Carlo, solid amount of it, hopefully reliability will follow.
Official press release covering the announcement follows below.
Hyundai Shell World Rally Team confirms Chris Atkinson for Mexico
Following its debut in the FIA World Rally Championship (WRC) at Rallye Monte-Carlo earlier this month, the Hyundai Shell World Rally Team is pleased to announce today that Chris ‘Atko’ Atkinson will drive the #8 Hyundai i20 WRC for Rally Mexico, round three of the championship.
The 34-year-old Australian will be joined by his co-driver Stéphane Prévot in the second Hyundai i20 WRC entered into Rally Mexico and will compete alongside the team’s lead driver Thierry Neuville (Hyundai i20 WRC #7) in one of the toughest rounds of the WRC season
The talented Australian first joined Hyundai Motorsport as a test driver in July 2013 bringing a wide knowledge of the WRC to support the development of the car in only six months. After being confirmed in early December as one of the drivers to share the second Hyundai i20 WRC at selected events during 2014, the 34-year-old will make his competitive debut with the car at Rally Mexico in early March, an event where he scored his best ever WRC finish (second place in 2008).
Chris Atkinson said: “It has been a great pleasure to have been involved in the testing of the Hyundai i20 WRC but to have the opportunity to contest Rally Mexico with the team is fantastic. I have had several good results in Mexico, including my best WRC finish of second place in 2008, so I have some great memories of this event and the Mexican fans. It will be the competitive debut of the Hyundai i20 WRC on gravel so it will be interesting to see how we can perform. I know how hard everyone has been working to prepare for this season so I hope we can repay them with a good result!”
Team Principal of the Hyundai Shell World Rally Team, Michel Nandan commented: “We are very happy to have Chris on board for Rally Mexico, an event he has contested several times during his career and one that he knows very well. After Rallye Monte-Carlo we had to start making decisions on Rally Mexico and we thought Chris would be the ideal choice for our first rally on loose surface. We were impressed with Chris’ pace in Mexico last year and having feedback from a different driver will definitely help us significantly to further develop the Hyundai i20 WRC.”
“Chris was also a major asset during our testing year in the development of the Hyundai i20 WRC in the build-up to our participation in the FIA World Rally Championship and he certainly deserves to be part of the team this year as well” he concluded.
Rally Mexico (March 6-9, 2014) will take the Hyundai Shell World Rally Team to the Americas for its first overseas event and it will mark the first competitive appearance of the Hyundai i20 WRC on gravel.