Glenn Macneall, 40, who was navigating Atkinson when they finished third on Rally Japan in 2005 and has tackled 84 WRC events to date, last competed alongside Atkinson on Vodafone Rally de Portugal in March 2007 when they formed part of the factory Subaru line-up.
They parted company shortly afterwards with Stephane Prevot being drafted in as a replacement. The Belgian has remained Atkinson’s co-driver ever since and was on duty when Atkinson made his debut for WRC Team MINI Portugal on ADAC Rallye Deutschland last month in place of Armindo Araujo.
However, commitments to historic Porsche competitor Christian Kelders have resulted in Prevot being ruled out of the upcoming Strasbourg-based round, plus the WRC season finale in Spain in mid-November.
A statement from WRC Team MINI Portugal read: “Chris will not drive with Stephane in France or Spain. There’s no problem between them - or with the team - Stephane will be in the car again in Sardinia. However, due to their last-minute engagement in the WRC, Stephane found himself double-booked.
“This is unfortunate timing for Chris, but pays testament to Stephane’s character. As Malcolm [Wilson] mentioned when he presented Stephane with the Michael [Park ‘Beef’ Trophy] in GB, Stephane’s one of the most loyal guys around and would never flake out on someone. His loyalty to Chris has always been fantastic and he’ll do everything he can to support Chris throughout the remainder of the season even when he can’t make it to the events. We’ve only worked with him for two events now, but he became part of the team immediately.”