Araujo, the double Production Car world champion, had been due to contest all 13 rounds of this year’s series and was relishing the prospect of switching to the latest-specification MINI John Cooper Works WRC for next week’s ADAC Rallye Deutschland.
However, his team has confirmed he won’t take any further part in the WRC this year, handing Atkinson a dream opportunity to return to regular competition after making only sporadic appearances in the series in recent seasons.
“This season has been highly pressurised from the start,” said WRC Team MINI Portugal manager Bruno De Pianto. “We only found out following Monte-Carlo that we would have the opportunity to run two drivers for the full 13-event WRC calendar as a works-supported team. The original plan was for Armindo to run seven events as a privateer. Due to our long-standing and successful relationship, we wanted Armindo to stay with the team for the full season and he was pleased to join us on our journey. However, the pressure on him was significant.
“After our Rally Finland debrief and further conversations with Armindo since returning home, we decided that it was better for him to take a break, relax and regain his focus on the sport and how he approaches it. We’ve created a great history together and it’s fair to say that he had previously always been motivated and determined in his career. However, there’s always a point where you have to admit that something isn’t quite right. The decision was not taken lightly and was made on purely sporting grounds. It was not a personal decision and everyone in the team wishes Armindo all the best for the future.”