Atkinson recounts rally tales

Former FIA World Rally Championship (WRC) driver Chris Atkinson has shared new insights into his time at the top of the sport.

Speaking on the popular ‘Rusty’s Garage’ podcast, Atkinson revealed more details surrounding his decision to turn down Citroen’s offer to be rally legend Sébastien Loeb’s teammate in 2008, with Atkinson turning down the offer in order to stay loyal to his team at the time in Subaru.

Click here to listen to part one of the podcast with Greg Rust.

“I had done some tests in that Citroen and it was such a pleasure to drive. I wish I had some more rallies in that,” Atkinson explained.

‘It’s awesome to look back at that knowing I was one of the only drivers to drive a latest world rally car at the time and that’s how I became the go to test driver, but to get back to the WRC level, I needed a full season to build and unfortunately that opportunity never came.

“It is kind of frustrating because Citroen approached me about leaving Subaru in 2008 and I guess my loyalty kept me at Subaru. I just signed a multiyear deal going into 2009, however at the end of 2008, Subaru pulled the pin and that’s what killed it off.

“I was offered to be Sébastien’s teammate on a multiyear deal.

“It was great to be in that position, I basically had two offers going forward. I must have had a year left at Subaru and we felt like we were turning a corner. So, it is a bit frustrating.”

Click here to listen to part two of the podcast.

Atkinson also shared some of the more challenging times with Rust, including his biggest crash in the championship with Subaru at Rally GB.

Such was the enormity of crash, the FIA retained his helmet for five years in order to introduce new and improved helmet rules and regulations, which have been put in place since.

The New South Welshman enjoyed two stints in the WRC during his rally career, representing Subaru World Rally Team between 2004 and 2008 and Citroen Juniors in 2009 before taking a break and returning in 2012 for three years.

Atkinson was a well-respected driver who picked up a number of podiums and top 10 placings in his 77 WRC appearances, including two consecutive runner-up finishes during his best season in 2008, where he finished fifth outright.

Atkinson has also spent some more time in Australia recently, most notably joining RSEA Safety Motorsport Australia Rally Championship drivers at the most recent round in 2021, the Accent Benchtops Rally Queensland.