Australia’s Chris Atkinson has been confirmed as the Subaru World Rally Team’s second driver for the 2007 World Rally Championship season.

Atkinson and co-driver Glenn Macneall will contest every round of the series together with the team’s lead crew, Petter Solberg and co-driver Phil Mills.

Atkinson, 26, became the first Australian to become a full-time WRC driver when he joined the works Subaru team in 2005 and embarked on a programme to develop his natural talent.

After an impressive debut at Rally Sweden, Atkinson has continued to make excellent progress in building experience of the Impreza WRC and the 16 different rallies that make up the Championship, while collecting stage wins, world championship points and a podium finish along the way.

The Gold Coast rally driver is delighted that his journey with Subaru will continue in to 2007.

“It’s great news,” Atkinson said. “I’m happy to continue the relationship. I feel like I’ve really started to fit in and make a difference to the team, so it’s good to know that Subaru is putting so much faith in my ability.”

“The team is heading in a good direction now and I feel I can help them progress.”

“I’m looking forward to next season, the strategies are in place to improve the overall package and I hope we can look forward to getting some better results.”

Subaru Australia managing director, Nick Senior, is pleased that Atkinson will continue to build on the company’s long investment in Australian rallying.

“Subaru is particularly proud to be associated with Chris and his World Rally Championship campaign,” Senior said.

“His re-signing with the Subaru World Rally Team is testament to his skill and commitment, and his ability to knuckle down and get the job done.”

“It has been a very, very difficult year for the team, but Chris has remained positive and focused on producing his best each time he has got behind the wheel.”

“Subaru has a long tradition of rallying success. We were unbeaten in ten years in the Australian Championship prior to our withdrawal at the end of last year to concentrate our efforts on the more important regional and global championships.”

“Cody Crocker has done a great job winning the Asia-Pacific Championship this year and now Chris will continue to fly the Australian flag in the WRC, the second most important Motorsport title in the world.”

Subaru World Rally Team managing director, Richard Taylor, believes the best for Atkinson is still to come.

“We’re very pleased to have Chris with us again next year,” Taylor said.

“Our team has a reputation for recognising potential and, as Chris’s performances in Australia and the most recent events have shown, he has become an increasingly confident and able driver. With the benefit of more event experience and the full backing of our team I believe he has a very bright future ahead of him.”

“Next season we intend to concentrate our efforts on running a two car team on each round of the championship. This means no third car and unfortunately no opportunity for Stephane Sarrazin to drive for us. We are sorry to lose Stephane and I am very grateful for the contribution he made, both on rallies, and as part of our test team over the past two seasons.”  
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