from swrt.com and rally-live.com
The Subaru World Rally Team has extended its driver contract with 27-year-old Chris Atkinson until the end of the 2009 World Rally Championship (WRC) season.
Acknowledged as one of the most exciting young drivers in the WRC, Australian-born Atkinson was first signed by Subaru in 2005, and made his competitive debut on that season's Rally of Sweden.
He has started a total of 42 rallies for the Japanese manufacturer, and recorded his best result, third overall, on Rally Japan in 2005. So far this year Atkinson has finished fourth on three WRC rallies and has set 12 fastest stage times.
“I'm delighted to announce that we have secured Chris's services for a further two seasons," said Subaru World Rally Team managing director Richard Taylor. "Over the last 12 months he has shown excellent pace on many occasions and is now backing this up by producing strong results.
“Chris's driving has clearly moved up a level in recent events and we expect to see him on the podium before the end of this season.
I look forward to Subaru giving him his first WRC victory in the not too distant future," added Taylor.
“It's great news, and I'm very much looking forward to continuing my relationship with Subaru,” said Atkinson. “Even though the last couple of seasons haven't always been easy, I think our recent results show we've turned a corner now with the performance of the car, and I'm confident we'll see improved form as we go forward. It's an exciting time to be part of Subaru's WRC programme and a terrific opportunity for me personally. There is an excellent team of people in the UK and Japan who all want to see a Subaru on the top step of the podium, and you can be sure I'll be doing everything I can to make that happen.”