CHRIS ATKINSON didn't start racing until he made it to university, but in only a few years his prodigious talent saw him score a works drive with the Subaru World Rally Team, racing the likes of Sebastien Loeb, Carlos Sainz and Colin McRae.
Now back in Australia after living in England and Monaco, he's quite the family man based on the Gold Coast with wife Ashley and kids Ayva, 6, and Lyla, 1. He is a brand ambassador for Hyundai, having raced for its World Rally Team in 2014, so enjoys a garage lined with Korean hardware. He says his motoring tastes have matured and the superfit 35-year-old rally ace is hoping to own a few classic cars in the near future.
What was your first car?
A mid-90s Hyundai Excel. It was bright green and the seating position was what I'd call interesting. My first proper rally car was a Mitsubishi Lancer Evo V after crashing my brother's old rally car in my first event!
What are you driving now?
I've got a Hyundai Veloster SR but am getting the new Genesis for some real luxury. My wife has the Santa Fe SUV, perfect for the kids.
What cars did your family have while you were growing up?
I remember mum having a Holden Statesman in the early 1980s, while dad had an old Nissan ute because we lived in a country town. Dad was NSW rally champion back then, so he had a Datsun Stanza rally car, too.
What is your greatest frustration on the road?
People not concentrating. Everything is so controlled by regulations that people are always checking their speedos rather than focusing on their actual driving.
Do you have any preferred driving music?
I actually had the team put in an iPod connection for my World Rally Car so I could listen to music between rally stages to give me motivation. For that, punk stuff like Blink-182 is best.
If you were to pick anyone in the world to go on a road trip, who would it be?
Someone who had lots of good stories to tell like Michael Hutchence of INXS, if he were alive.
What is your dream car?
I'm getting more in to my classics, so ideally a 1973 Porsche 911 Carrera RS or Ferrari F40.
Who: Chris "Atko" Atkinson.
Born: November 30, 1979, Bega, NSW.
Resume: Graduating from Bond University with a degree in commerce he began his working life as a stockbroker. Alongside brother Ben, the pair won the Privateer Championship in the 2002 Australian Rally Championship, and was snapped up by Suzuki for the 2003 Asia-Pacific Rally Championship. Graduating to the pinnacle World Rally Championship for 2005 with Subaru World Rally Team, he enjoyed four seasons driving works WRC Imprezas, with standout results being second places at the 2008 Rally Mexico and Rally Argentina, helping him to fifth in that year's WRC drivers' championship. Recent years have seen him drive for Citroen, Mini and Hyundai, and he was Asia-Pacific Rally Champion in 2012 driving a Skoda Fabia S2000.
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