Rally Australia manager David Catchpole says that Chris Atkinson's deal with Hyundai will be a huge boost to the event when it returns to the World Rally Championship later this season.
The Coffs Harbour based event is one of those in which Atkinson will run in the second of Hyundai's i20 WRCs, with the Australian appearing on his home event for the first time since 2006, when he failed to score with Subaru.
Atkinson will hope to better the result gained by Nathan Quinn last year, when he took ninth place in a MINI.
“Hyundai Motorsport's recent confirmation that Chris will be behind the wheel of a Hyundai i20 WRC for his first run in his home event since 2006 is a major boost for Coates Hire Rally Australia,” Catchpole said.
“Just as Mark Webber and Daniel Ricciardo in the FIA Formula 1 World Championship and Casey Stoner in MotoGP have provided a focus for Australian fans, our own Chris Atkinson now will carry the hopes of many in the FIA World Rally Championship.
“Atko is among the elite few who drive a factory-backed car in the world's premier rally series. He'll have his first start for Hyundai in Rally Mexico next week and then we'll watch his progress in selected events until he lines up on the Coffs Coast in September.
“Of course, we also hope there will be other Australian-based drivers aiming up to test themselves against the internationals, including Coffs Harbour's Nathan Quinn who scored an outstanding ninth place last year.”