Chris Atkinson has conceded he may have reached a crossroads in his WRC career after a disappointing return to competition at the recent Coates Hire Rally Australia.
The 34-year-old rejoined the Hyundai squad at his home rally after six months on the sidelines, but his recent lack of competitive action showed and he was only able to guide his i20 WRC to 10th place at the finish.
Hyundai has adopted a policy of using six different drivers during its debut season in the WRC and Atkinson has been restricted to just two outings so far – his last coming at Rally Mexico in March.
Atkinson, who has only started ten WRC events in the last three seasons, admitted it was hard to find a rhythm on the first day in Australia and that meant he had to open the road on the last two days of competition.
“I knew it would be difficult coming here for the first time and after six months out of the car so I tried to just enjoy the event,” Atkinson told wrc.com. “I tried to enjoy my driving and have fun, but it’s never going to be the same as when you’re a full-time racer.
“Unless you’re racing full time and have a proper 8 to 10-event programme, it’s difficult to get in the rhythm. I never felt like I was on the money all weekend or found that groove that you have to be in. That showed in the times.
“We weren’t cruising but we never got to the end and thought ‘okay, that’s the maximum I could have done’. Knowing what I’ve done in the past, I know how to win stages and I know what speed you’ve got to go at. But I just couldn’t find that rhythm (in Australia).”
With no further WRC outings confirmed with Hyundai yet and no other plans in place for 2015, Atkinson faces an uncertain future in the WRC.
“I want to make sure whatever I’m doing is fun and that I’m enjoying it as well. I don’t like just making up the numbers – that’s not what I want to do,” the former Subaru World Rally Team driver said. “If that takes me somewhere else and I do some other racing somewhere else then so be it.”