AUS: Chris Atkinson round five APC preview

When Chris Atkinson takes to the start line in the fifth round of the Asia Pacific Championship in China this weekend the event will mark another first for the young Queenslander. It will be the first time he has competed without his brother,...

When Chris Atkinson takes to the start line in the fifth round of the Asia Pacific Championship in China this weekend the event will mark another first for the young Queenslander.

It will be the first time he has competed without his brother, Ben, by his side as co-driver.

Over the past three years the Atkinson pair have been on a meteoric rise towards the top of the rallying scene winning the 2002 Australian Privateers Cup, Asia Pacific Super 1600 crown last year and took the Australian Championship by storm this year, however the pair have decided it is time for a change.

Beginning this weekend Ben will take a different role in the career of his younger brother from outside the car with the vision of ensuring Chris makes it to the top of the ladder in world rallying.

"As much as I love being in the car with Chris and I would never change anything for the world, I think it is time for us both to focus heavily on what we really want out of life," said Ben.

"To make it to the top of world rallying Chris needs the 100% commitment that I will be there for the next ten years and I couldn't see myself living out of a suitcase for 290 days a year across the world.

"I will still be heavily involved in his career but more so managing things from back home in Australia while doing some traveling throughout the year.

"If the right opportunity came up I wouldn't rule out a return to co-driving at a National level in the future."

Chris is fully supportive of his older sibling's decision and speaks highly of Ben's dedication over the past and into the future.

"It is going to be weird for me getting into the car without Ben alongside, but he has other goals that he wants to achieve along with being supportive of me in achieving mine," said Chris Atkinson.

"I know that he will do everything to support me in getting to the top and I will do the same for him in everything he wants to achieve.

"He has however left some big shoes to fill that have been imprinted on the floorboard."

For this weekend's event Glenn McNeal will co-drive with Chris Atkinson to fulfill his commitments in the Asia Pacific Championship with a vision of finalizing Chris' co-driver line up for Telstra Rally Australia and the team's plans for 2005 in the near future.

-ar-

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Series RALLY