Australian rally driver Chris Atkinson’s career is well and truly at the crossroads. It’s nearly two and a half years since the 31-year old contested a round of the World Rally Championship, and if he doesn’t re-enter the fray soon, his opportunity will have surely passed.

The former Subaru World Rally Team driver, who scored six WRC podiums and 40 stage wins in his four-year career with the Japanese team, is currently trying to secure a deal to contest September’s Rally Australia in Coffs Harbour.

Atkinson’s last WRC entry was in a Citroen C4 on the 2009 Rally of Ireland, but since then his only real competition has been driving a Super 2000 Proton in the Asia-Pacific Championship and selected IRC events in Europe.

However, Atkinson would probably be the first to admit that his time at Proton has been a disaster. The car’s constant unreliability has continually seen him parked on the side of stages with mechanical problems that the team can’t seem to overcome.

Of course the Aussie can’t be held responsible for those, and in a driver’s market that is almost non-existent, he has had little choice other than to take the best of what limited offers he has been provided with.

It’s no secret that Atkinson, his family and his backers paid big dollars to get his WRC career started at Subaru, but having taken two second placings in the 2008 WRC, he must surely be beyond the point of having to fork into his own pocket to prove he has the speed.

The problem is, the longer he’s out of the WRC, the harder it is to get back in. Young drivers with both talent and money such as Mads Ostberg and Evgeny Novikov have quickly moved ahead of Atkinson in the driver’s market, and the Aussie is in the “now or never” stage of his career.

According to reports, MINI look like the most obvious chance for Atkinson to appear at Rally Australia, thanks to his history with Prodrive and Dave Richards, but drives with Ford and Citroen have also been mooted.

Whatever the brand of car, let’s just hope that ‘Chris ATKINSON (AUS)’ is a prominent addition to the entry list of Rally Australia 2011.

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