Rally car driver on show

Whitsunday Times - - MOTORING -

WHIT­SUN­DAY mo­to­sport en­thu­si­asts were in for a vis­ual treat as pro­fes­sional rally car driver Chris Atkin­son hit the track at the Whit­sun­day Race­way on the week­end.

Atkin­son was in the Whit­sun­days as guest of Abell Point Ma­rina’s Paul Dar­rouzet who in­vited the Aus­tralian rally driver to test out his 1971 Ford Capri Per­ana clas­sic on the cus­tom-built rac­ing track.

The pair first met dur­ing an ice-driv­ing rally course in Nor­way four years ago, and Dar­rouzet has fol­lowed Atkin­son’s ca­reer ever since.

Atkin­son said Dar­rouzet was keen on get­ting some qual­ity track time be­fore com­pet­ing in the Syd­ney to Lon­don Clas­sic Marathon Rally in April.

“It’s a great track that proved to be testing in the wet for a 1971 rear-wheel drive rally car but we both had big smiles on our faces af­ter a few laps,” Atkin­son said.

“It’s great to see that a fa­cil­ity of this qual­ity is avail­able for the Whit­sun­day com­mu­nity.”

Atkin­son was in the Whit­sun­days for three days, be­fore fly­ing out to Mex­ico on Satur­day af­ter­noon to be­gin train­ing for round three of the World Rally Cham­pi­onship (WRC).

Atkin­son will drive the #8 Hyundai i20 WRC as part of the Hyundai Shell World Rally team which will be held at Rally Mex­ico in March.

The 34-year-old will be joined by his co-driver Stephane Prevot in the se­cond Hyundai i20 WRC to be en­tered into the event.

He will be com­pet­ing along­side the team’s lead driver Thierry Neuville in the Hyundai i20 WRC #7 at what is pre­dicted to be one of the tough­est rounds of the WRC sea­son.

Atkin­son first joined Hyundai Mo­to­sport as a test driver in July last year and will be mak­ing his com­pet­i­tive de­but in the #8 car at Rally Mex­ico - an event where he scored his best ever WRC fin­ish in se­cond place in 2008.

Whit­sun­day Mo­to­sports Club pres­i­dent An­drew Auld said it was a great boost for the re­gion to have a driver of Atkin­son’s cal­i­bre in the Whit­sun­days.

RALLY KING: Whit­sun­day Mo­to­sports Club rep­re­sen­ta­tives Adam Stroud and An­drew Auld caught up with pro­fes­sional rally car driver Chris Atkin­son and Paul Dar­rouzet with his 1971 Ford Capri Per­ana clas­sic rally car which was put to test at the Whit­sun­day Race­way on Satur­day.

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