Chris Atkinson says he is looking forward to going head-to-head in identical machinery with multiple World Rally Champion Sebastien Loeb after inking a deal with Citroen for the 2009 WRC season opener.

The Australian found himself without a job after Subaru announced its shock withdrawal from the sport, but moved swiftly to secure a place with Citroen's new M2 team for the opening round of 2009 in Ireland.

Although the deal is currently for one event only, Citroen has already expressed a desire for it to become a longer term partnership, with the 29-year-old being the most experienced of the four drivers announced for the programme.

Having previously stated that his hopes of taking a WRC drive looked slim, Atkinson admitted that he was thrilled to have been given the chance to compete in Ireland and said he was keen to see how he would shape up against regular Citroen duo Sebastien Loeb and Dani Sordo.

"This is a wonderful opportunity for me as I will be able to compete against Sebastien Loeb in a similar car," he told the Sydney Morning Herald. "Obviously my aim is to be as competitive with him and Dani Sordo as soon as possible."

Atkinson's Subaru team-mate Petter Solberg remains without a drive for Ireland and said prior to Christmas that he didn't expect to have a programme in place before the 2009 season-opener as he continues discussions with both Subaru and Prodrive about his future.

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