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FIA World Rally Championship driver Chris Atkinson has had his first taste of the Citroën C4 World Rally Car after a full day's test in the north of France on Monday.


The 29-year-old completed 180 kilometres in daylight and darkness where road conditions were both wet and dry as temperatures floated from a chilly -10 centigrade, in the early morning, to positive figures as the day progressed.

The test took place on a stage representative of the roads Atkinson is likely to experience on Rally Ireland in two weeks time where he will launch the C4 WRC into competition for the first time in his career.

Throughout the test the Australian was able to work with the Citroën Sport Technologies team to find an ideal setup for Ireland while at the same time familiarise himself with the car which took Citroën to victory in the 2008 Manufacturers' Championship.

With two stages set to run in darkness in Ireland the Queenslander was also able to complete four night runs over the 2.1 kilometre test road where he put in his fastest time of the session, suggesting the youngster progressed well in adapting to the new machinery.

Atkinson will contest the opening round of the 2009 WRC season in Ireland (30 Jan – 1 Feb) sporting the number 7 as a part of the newly formed Citroën Junior Team.

Atkinson said: "The C4 really is a fantastic car to drive and I'm thankful to the team we were able to get a full day's testing in ahead of Ireland. This was our first time back in a rally car since the big accident in Wales but it all went very well and we got progressively faster as the day went on which was encouraging."

"The C4 is a car you can really get a lot more out of the harder you drive it. It's amazing how aggressively you can attack corners, yet it all stays very balanced and straight. I was able to work with the team to find a suitable setup for Ireland, so now the focus is on training and preparing for the event to put ourselves in the best possible position to perform."

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