Chris Atkinson secures factory MINI WRC drive

// Posted in MINI, WRC

Chris Atkinson, WRC Team MINI Portugal

Well, we were expecting Chris Atkinson to drive a MINI in Rallye Deutschland, but we weren’t expecting this! In exchange for posing like a prat in the above pic Atko will be the lead driver for WRC Team MINI Portugal for the remaining five races of the 2012 season.

It’s been a roller coaster year for Team MINI Portugal, run by Motorsport Italia, who were surprisingly given factory backing after BMW cut Prodrive’s factory status back in February.

Since then Motorsport Italia’s lead driver Armindo Araujo has failed to meet expectations. According to an official team statement the decision to release Araujo was made after the Rally Finland debrief. “There’s always a point where you have to admit that something isn’t quite right and I hope that we’ve accepted that point at just the right time,” said Team Manager, Bruno de Pianto.

“The decision was not taken lightly and was made on purely sporting grounds. It was not a personal decision and everyone in the team wishes Armindo all the best for the future.”

Confirming Atkinson’s position de Pianto added, “Atko’s a really top guy all the way from Australia, fast and experienced and he’s going to take over as the team’s No. 1 driver, flanked by the oh-so-experienced Belgian Stéphane Prévot for the rest of the season.

“It’ll be his first time in a MINI on the test this weekend, but we’re confident that Chris can handle any car he lays his hands on and his MINI will love him within minutes. We’re all very much looking forward to working with him and Stéphane and seeing what surprises Rallye Deutschland has to offer!”

Atkinson will make his race debut with WRC Team MINI Portugal in Germany over the weekend of 24–26 August.

You can hear what Chris has to say by watching a short video below, which has been sourced from Atkinson’s YouTube account.