Subaru rally refugee Chris Atkinson has gone one better than his old team-mate Petter Solberg by managing to sort at least a part-time deal to contest the 2009 season.
The Australian driver, who was left without a seat for 2009 when Subaru announced its withdrawal from the World Rally Championship at the end of last season, is to join Citroen’s ‘junior team’ for this year.
The deal means that Atkinson will contest the opening round of the WRC, Rally Ireland, in a full-spec Citroen C4 WRC that’s identical to the car used by five-times world champion Sebastien Loeb.
However, it’s not yet clear if Atkinson is guaranteed a full programme as part of the junior team, which is also planning to run highly rated Frenchman Sebastien Ogier, Conrad Rautenbach and Russian Evgeny Novikov on selected events.
Solberg, meanwhile, has already acknowledged that he will miss the Irish event. But he has been given more time to place an entry on his home round of the WRC, Rally Norway, which is scheduled to start on 11 February.
Solberg, the 2003 champion, has until 13 January to piece together a deal; a privately run Ford Focus WRC appears to be his most likely option. “There is still a lot of work to do before we are there,” he said in a statement on his official website.