High hopes for Pro­ton

NT News - Motoring - - CARS GUIDE - By MARK HINCH­LIFFE

CHRIS Atkin­son will be hop­ing for his­tory to re­peat it­self in the In­ter­na­tional Rally of Queens­land on the Sun­shine Coast hin­ter­land this week­end.

The Monaco-based Queens­lan­der won the event in 2004 for Suzuki and was snapped up by Subaru for the next four years in the World Rally Cham­pi­onship be­fore the Ja­panese com­pany pulled out of in­ter­na­tional rac­ing last year.

Atkin­son is now driv­ing for the new Pro­ton R3 Malaysian fac­tory team in the Asia Pa­cific Rally Cham­pi­onship which in­cludes a round in the Rally of Queens­land.

‘‘It’s the pin­na­cle of ral­ly­ing and I have un­fin­ished busi­ness there.’’

Atkin­son said he hoped for a ‘‘good re­sult’’ in the 82-car in­ter­na­tional field.

He is seeded sec­ond be­hind Ja­panese driver Katsu Taguchi in a Mit­subishi Lancer Evo X.

‘‘I’ve won the event be­fore so I’d be dis­ap­pointed if I don’t end up on top,’’ he said.

Atkin­son said the in­tro­duc­tion of Pro­ton to the field was good for the sport.

‘‘It’s al­ways good to see a new man­u­fac­turer in the sport. It helps show­case them in a new light.’’

Atkin­son ex­pectd re­cent wet weather to in­tro­duce an el­e­ment of luck in the Im­bil for­est this week­end.

‘‘The con­di­tions are re­ally treach­er­ous af­ter that rain,’’ he said. ‘We’ll need a fair bit of luck with the con­di­tions.

‘‘If it catches you out, you are off the road, into a tree and it’s all over.

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