High hopes for Proton
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.