Aussie driver Chris Atkinson will be racing for Proton in IRC Rallye Sanremo next week. Atkinson, who rallies for Proton in the FIA Asia Pacific Championship (APRC), takes the place of P-G Andersson, and will line up alongside Italian Giandomenico Basso. His last appearance in the IRC was the in season opening Rallye Monte Carlo.

“It’s great to be back in the IRC again. I’ve done the recce for this event before, but never competed in Sanremo. It’s fair to say that this is one of the events I’ve always wanted to do: it’s one of the classics and a really tough event,” said Atkinson.

From what I remember some of the stages can be quite technical and then there’s the night stage, which is going to be a big challenge. I haven’t competed for a while now, so I’m really keen to get back in the car, especially on asphalt as I haven’t driven on that surface since January,” he added.

The former Subaru WRC works driver is currently leading the APRC Drivers’ standings after winning three out of four legs this year, while Proton is also top in the Manufacturers’ league. APRC’s next event is the Hokkaido Rally in Japan, one week after Sanremo, so Chris won’t have an extended break on the gorgeous Italian Riviera.

“Competing in Sanremo will definitely help me for the following week in Japan. There’s nothing like time in the car to keep you sharp,” said Atkinson, who will be co-driven in Italy by usual partner Stéphane Prévot.

“The competition in IRC will be really tough as usual. Those boys have been out racing pretty much every other week and that really gets you on the ball as a driver. I’m pretty fortunate having a team-mate like Giandomenico [Basso], he’s got plenty of knowledge on setting the car up on these roads and for tyre choice if the weather closes in.”