Chris Atkinson has admitted he thinks a podium position in next month's Rally Finland is a possibility when he competes in a Citroen DS3 WRC for the first time.
Atkinson is stepping in to fill in for Qatar World Rally Team driver Nasser Al-Attiyah, who will be busy competing in the London Olympic Games. The Australian has only started one round of the World Rally Championship – Rally Mexico with the Monster team earlier this season – since 2009, but he says his regular outings in the Asia-Pacific Rally Championship have given him much-needed seat time.
"Obviously, the APRC's not at the same level as WRC," said Atkinson, "but it's still good racing and we've still be able to push on when we had to. This is a massive opportunity for me in the Citroen and I intend to make the most of it.
"It'll be hard to compete with the top three or four guys who are out there and racing continuously, but last time I was in Finland I was running seventh and then hit some top-three stage times and pulled up to third at the end. A podium's not out of the question again this time."
Atkinson will test the DS3 for a full day in Finland before the start of the Jyvaskyla-based event. He is, of course, no stranger to Citroen, having driven a C4 WRC to fifth overall on Rally Ireland in 2009.
"I'm sure I'll be able to get up to speed with the car pretty quickly," said Atkinson. "That was the case in 2009. OK, we had some different conditions, but by the end of Rally Ireland we were able to beat Sebastien [Loeb] on some of the stages. I'm not saying that's going to happen in Finland, but I know I've still got the speed to be driving full time in the championship."