Atkinson replaces Araujo at Mini for rest of season
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16th August 2012, 12:08 at 12:08 pmKeymaster
Chris Atkinson will drive for Mini for the rest of the WRC season, the team have confirmed.
He replaces Armindo Araujo, who is leaving “for sporting reasons”.
There are five rallies left in Germany, Britain, France, Italy and Spain.
Australian Chris ‘Atko’ Atkinson will contest the remaining five rounds of the 2012 FIA World Rally Championship as the number one driver for MINI.
Atkinson will compete for the factory-supported WRC Team MINI Portugal and jet set straight from his Gold Coast base to Europe today with the WRC heading to Germany for the ADAC Rallye Deutschland next weekend.
“MINI has provided me with an awesome opportunity to return to the World Championship and I’m stoked to be back as a lead driver for a great manufacturer and for the remainder of the 2012 season,” commented an enthusiastic Atkinson.
“I love the tarmac so it’s great to know that three of the remaining five events are on the sealed surface and I hope to take full advantage of my past experiences of the remaining rallies this year.”
Atkinson becomes the team’s number one driver, replacing Armindo Araujo who departs the team for sporting reasons.
Germany is by no means foreign to the Gold Coast-based driver with Atkinson contesting the event on four occasions prior, with a 100% completion rate and a top result of sixth overall in 2008.
It will be the first time the 32-year-old has driven the MINI John Cooper Works WRC but the Australian is relishing the chance to explore the possibilities of the competitive machinery.
“This will be my first time driving for WRC Team MINI Portugal and the MINI John Cooper Works WRC but from the information I have gathered I’m really looking forward to seeing what the MINI is made of in Germany.”
“The car looks great and the MINI brand is all about one big, fun-loving family which is just how I like to roll back on the Gold Coast.” Atko added.
Atkinson will be looking to continue his impressive form this year which sees him lead the FIA Asia Pacific Rally Championship and more recently, set blistering stage times on the Neste Oil Rally Finland despite an absence of four years, from the event.
He has an impressive WRC record which consists of 69 events, six podiums, 41 stage wins and 32 points finishes.
The history of Rally Germany is quite similar to Catalunya in that it was originally formed through the amalgamation of three smaller events – the Deutschland, Hunsbruck and Saarland rallies. One of the highlights of ADAC Rallye Deutschland in recent seasons is the inclusion of the Circus Maximus superspecial stage, which runs through the centre of Trier – Germany’s oldest city.
Stages are a delight for competitors and spectators alike, with stages running through the beautiful regions along the banks of the Mosel River as well as taking crews into the Baumholder military complex with its massive, car-destroying, hinkelsteins.
16th August 2012, 12:19 at 12:19 pm
This is good news – Atkinson has deserved a full-time WRC seat for a while now. I remember seeming him at Rally Australia a few years ago, going into the final stages with a privately-entered Subaru Impreza. He was at the final service park where he had run out of tyres and was trying to decide which four tyres were the least-damaged. In the end, he decided it didn’t matter, took the first four tyres he found and went on to finish the rally in fifth place.
He’s a really nice guy, too. I met him at the 2005 Rally Australia, chatting with a group of fans as if he had all the time in the world.
23rd August 2012, 12:30 at 12:30 pm
I’m hearing rumours that there may be more to this than meets the eye. Mini Team Portugal started out as the Armindo Araujo World Rally Team. When they got backing from Mini, they became Mini Team Portugal, and expanded to two cars. In order to cope with this, Araujo did a deal with Motorsport Italia to run the team. Now that he is out, he claims that Motorsport Italia have been slowly trying to squeeze him out of the team, as they supposedly refused to let him do setup work, changed the time and location of tests without telling him, and put pressure on him to withdraw from Rally Germany by exaggerating an injury. Araujo seems to think they are trying to take control of the team now that it has manufacturer backing, and has said he will take his case to the FIA once he has consulted with his lawyers.
Please note that I can’t be 100% certain as to how accurate this is. My only source is a translated version of a statement that was posted on an Araujo fan page on Facebook.
24th August 2012, 18:34 at 6:34 pmParticipant
@prisoner-monkeys That is the truth. Armindo owns the team’s license to compete on the WRC and, without his autorization, they can’t do it. I don’t know what the FIA will do, but it’s just another chapter in this decadent MINI WRC story.
It’s truth that Armindo isn’t at the level of most WRC drivers, but doing this is unfair. Motorsport Italia had a meeting with him and sent him an email with choices of reasons to retire from the team, most of them health reasons. He never had an health problem that impeded him from competing.
Anyway, I bet the team is going to lose all of their portuguese sponsorships by the end of the season.
25th August 2012, 3:24 at 3:24 am
I don’t know what the FIA will do
They have already said that the see no need to get involved.
but it’s just another chapter in this decadent MINI WRC story.
This whole episode might work out best for Mini. I don’t know exctly what happened to make them part ways with Prodrive, but it was a mistake – Araujo and Nobre aren’t up to the standard of a WRC driver, whereas Dani Sordo is currently fifth in Germany. If Mini can patch things up with Prodrive, and guarantee a budget for two cars next year (either Sordo/Meeke, Meeke/Atkinson or Atkinson/Sordo), then can actually be competitive.
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