Back in action in the series for the first time since Rally Guanajuato Mexico in early March, the Australian was bidding for a top-five finish on a one-off outing for the Qatar World Rally Team when he hit trouble on day two of Neste Oil Rally Finland last week.
After encountering intercom problems on Friday morning, he went off the road on stage eight when he misheard a pace note from co-driver Stephane Prevot. He continued following a delay of 16 minutes after getting stuck on a tree stump only to break his car’s front-right suspension striking a rock nestled on the ‘racing’ line on stage 10.
He restarted under Rally 2 rules on day three and reached the finish in Jyvaskyla in 39th place having run comfortably inside the top 10 early in the event.
“One slight brain fade cost us a good result but I was happy with my speed after four years away from this event,” said Atkinson. “Sure I could have been faster if I’d had more time in one of these cars. My focus is on the Asia Pacific title this year but I’d like to get back into the WRC. It’s the pinnacle of the sport and I’ve showed I deserve to be in one. I don’t know when I’ll be back in the WRC, but I hope it will be soon and with Citroen if possible.”