Subaru Rally Team USA Sends Chris Atkinson To China
The former World Rally Championship driver returns to his stage rally roots in a Subaru XV Crosstrek.
Chris Atkinson has seen some success in the Red Bull Global Rallycross championship this year, with podium finishes in Connecticut, Atlantic City, and Seattle. But according to some recent posts on social media, Atkinson has returned to his roots in stage rally to pilot a Subaru XV Crosstrek rally car in China.
Though "Atko" is best known these days as a rallycross driver, he drove for Subaru in the World Rally Championship from 2005 to 2008 alongside Petter Solberg.
According to his website, Atko's first visit to the Chinese Rally Championship was in 2015, where he helped the FAW-VW Rally Team win both the driver's and manufacturer's championships. He rejoined the FAW-VW Rally Team in China last year, where he competed against Subaru Rally Team USA's David Higgins.
This year, it's Atko in the Subaru, an XV Crosstrek. Chinese Rally Championship rules require cars to be available in China, which the usual WRX is not. So Vermont SportsCar has given their full rally car treatment to this XV Crosstrek. This may be the same car that Higgins' teammate Han Han drove to a third-place finish last year.
UPDATE: We reached out to Vermont SportsCar for more information. This is a brand new car that VSC just completed a couple of months ago. In the previous Chinese Rally Championship round, the Zhang Ye Rally, it was driven by WRC up-and-comer Karl Kruuda, who finished third overall. The team's leading Chinese driver, last season's Driver Champion Han Han, finished second overall in the same XV he drove last year.
Chris Atkinson, along with co-driver Dale Moscatt, is driving this car at Liupanshui, a 98% tarmac event and the third stop of the Chinese Rally Championship. "I am looking forward to driving the XV for the first time this weekend," Atkinson says. "It looks awesome and is very similar performance wise to the cars David Higgins and Travis Pastrana run in the USA. I am sure it will take a few stages to get up to speed on pace notes again after only doing Rallycross this year, but it will be nice not having to watch my mirrors, haha!"