Hyundai Motorsport has secured the services of rally ace Chris Atkinson, with the Australian joining the team’s testing and development program ahead of its 2014 re-entry into the World Rally Championship (WRC).
Thirty-three year old Atkinson, whose WRC resume includes steering for Subaru, Mini and Ken Block’s Monster World Rally Team, will be on board for selected tests in 2013 with the first taking place at a private session next week.
Atkinson will work alongside Juho Hanninen and Bryan Bouffier as Hyundai Motorsport’s current crop of i20 WRC test drivers.
Atkinson, who recently flew from Australia to Hyundai Motorsport’s Alzenau headquarters in Germany see the WRC car for the first time, said the i20’s development was an exciting project to be part of.
“After visiting the Hyundai Motorsport factory three weeks ago, I am simply impressed by the team’s commitment and achievements so far,” the Australian said.
“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.”
Hyundai Motorsport team principal Michel Nandan said he was convinced Atkinson would bring a lot of valuable experience to the team.
“With the combined expertise of all three test drivers, we will be able to benefit from thorough and comprehensive input at every test session.”
The Hyundai i20 WRC, first seen at the 2012 Paris motor show and again in revised form at the 2013 Geneva motor show, completed its first testing session in Europe in May, as the team readies for round one of the 2014 WRC season at the Rallye Monte Carlo in January.
Hyundai withdrew from the rally series in 2003, after a three-year stint in the premier class with a Hyundai Accent-based entry.