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WRC NEWS 

Former Subaru star Chris Atkinson to make WRC return on Rally Sweden

Chris AtkinsonFormer Subaru star Chris Atkinson will return to the World Rally Championship, driving a Subaru Impreza R4 on next month's Rally Sweden.

The Australian hasn't competed in the WRC since finishing fifth in a one-off Citroen C4 WRC outing on Rally Ireland in 2009. Atkinson collected six WRC podiums in his three years with Subaru, but switched to Proton for last season - just missing out on the Asia-Pacific Rally Championship title.

18 World Rally Cars will start the second round of the World Rally Championship, Rally Sweden next month - but Britain's Kris Meeke is once again absent from the entry list.

Meeke will miss the Monte Carlo Rally due to budget constraints, but it is hoped Mini will run a third car for the Northern Irishman on selected rounds of this year's WRC. The former Intercontinental Rally Challenge champion won't, however, be in Karlstad.

As predicted by AUTOSPORT, Meeke's seat in the second factory John Cooper Works WRC will be taken by former Junior World Rally Champion Patrik Sandell. Armindo Araujo, Paulo Nobre and Richard Goransson will also drove Minis in the snow.

Mads Ostberg makes his first appearance of 2012 in a Fiesta RS WRC, as does Polish driver Michal Solowow and highly rated Finn Jari Ketomaa, who sensationally led Rally Finland in a Fiesta RS WRC last season.

Solowow, Evgeny Novikov and Ott Tanak are all entered under the M-Sport Ford World Rally Team banner, a squad which is expected to run with WRC Team status this season.

Also making a first appearance in Sweden will be Nasser Al-Attiyah, whose Citroen DS3 WRC is entered by the Qatar World Rally Team.

Andreas Mikkelsen returns to the Volkswagen Motorsport squad, driving one of the German firm's Skoda Fabia S2000s for the second time after his debut in Finland last season. Mikkelsen, of course, partners Sebastien Ogier.

Swedish driver Patrik Flodin makes a rare WRC appearance outside of a Subaru, using a Ford Fiesta S2000 on his home round of the series.

Rally Sweden runs from February 9-12.

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