Atkinson eyes Asia Pacific title in Japan

Chris Atkinson will be the one to catch in Japan

Australia’s Chris Atkinson heads to this weekend’s Rally Hokkaido with the chance to wrap-up the Asia Pacific Rally Championship.

Despite an early exit at last weekend’s Intercontinental Rally Challenge’s Sanremo Rally in Italy with mechanical issues, the Proton Motorsports driver has dominated all but one round in the Asia Pacific Series with three wins from four events. Plus Japan holds great memories for Atkinson when he scored his first podium result in the country while driving for the works Subaru team in the World Rally Championship in 2005.

“I like Japan and the rally has always been a very big challenge for us – and this week’s going to be no different,” said Atkinson.

“It is possible for us to win the championship here, but I’m honestly not thinking about that at all. We’re completely focused on the event itself.

“The car has been really strong in the APRC this season. The priority for us this week is to get the cars to the finish to make sure Proton gets the maximum points in the FIA APRC manufacturers’ championship.

“And if we stay ahead of the Mitsubishis, it’s not going to hurt our own aspirations in the drivers’ race either.”

Rally Hokkaido is based on Japan’s northernmost island and the open countryside and woodland of the province of Tokachi provide fast and flowing gravel stages. Weather-wise, anything could be on the cards with the region featuring some of the highest summer temperatures, around 40 degrees, then in winter it can go almost as far the opposite side of freezing point.

The rally starts tomorrow.

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