Hyundai signs Thierry Neuville for 2014 WRC season
|By Sam Tremayne||Tuesday, November 5th 2013, 09:33 GMT|
Hyundai has confirmed that Thierry Neuville will lead its new World Rally Championship team in 2014.
The 25-year-old has signed a three-year deal with the Korean manufacturer in an agreement first revealed by AUTOSPORT last month.
Neuville joined M-Sport at the start of this season and has been a revelation, outperforming team-mates Mads Ostberg and Evgeny Novikov and battling for victory at several events.
He currently lies second overall with just the Rally GB finale to run.
"I believe Hyundai Motorsport is the perfect fit for me because it is a young, emerging and ambitious manufacturer team with long-term objectives for championship success and I have long held aspirations of driving for a manufacturer team," Neuville said.
"I was impressed with the team's facility, their approach to the rally programme and their clear potential.
"I hope my two years of experience in WRC will be beneficial to the team as we build a harmonious working partnership.
"We know we have a steep learning curve ahead of us in our first season but I am convinced we will have a successful future together."
Hyundai team principal Michel Nandan said signing Neuville reflected Hyundai's long-term rallying ambitions.
"Thierry is having a fantastic 2013 season and is proving himself to be one of the most exciting young drivers in WRC," Nandan said.
"His raw speed, driving skill and dynamic approach to rallying make him the ideal lead driver for Hyundai.
"By signing a driver of Thierry's talent, we can show that Hyundai's WRC engagement is serious and focused on long-term success.
"It is also great recognition for the work that the entire team has carried out in such a short time."
M-Sport sad to lose Neuville
M-Sport's managing director Malcolm Wilson admitted losing Neuville was a blow, adding: "We are obviously disappointed that Thierry has made the decision to go to Hyundai after a strong performance from all the team this year.
"However, now that he has made the decision, our focus turns to Wales Rally GB and securing his second position in the drivers' championship.
"Once this goal is achieved we will then re-direct our attention to the 2014 season. We are speaking to a number of drivers about potential options.
"M-Sport has a strong history of developing drivers in the WRC and we look forward to announcing our 2014 programme in the near future."