Hirvonen, Evans join M-Sport for 2014 WRC season
|By Matt Beer||Friday, December 13th 2013, 09:27 GMT|
M-Sport will field team returnee Mikko Hirvonen and WRC2 graduate Elfyn Evans in its World Rally Championship team in 2014.
Hirvonen and Evans will run as the official M-Sport World Rally Team, with discussions over a title sponsor still ongoing.
Robert Kubica will also be part of the M-Sport line-up, but run under the Lotos WRT banner.
Hirvonen is returning to M-Sport having been part of its factory Ford programme from 2006-11.
During that stint he took 11 of his 12 WRC wins and came within a point of beating Sebastien Loeb to the 2009 title.
He then left for a less successful period at Citroen.
"To be back in a Ford Fiesta RS WRC, it really feels as though I am coming home," said Hirvonen.
"The last two years were really good for myself and Jarmo [Lehtinen, co-driver], but although we will take a lot of good memories with us, we didn't necessarily achieve what we set out to do.
"Joining M-Sport will give us a good chance to try again - a fresh start in a car we know we can be competitive in. We are motivated to win, and we are in the best possible place to do that."
LEARNING YEAR FOR EVANS
M-Sport backed 2012 WRC Academy champion Evans through his WRC2 campaign last year.
He also stepped into Nasser Al-Attiyah's World Rally Car for Rally Italy and finished sixth on his top-level debut.
The 24-year-old Welshman is the son of 1996 British champion and sometime factory Ford WRC driver Gwyndaf Evans.
"The great thing about this programme is that it gives us time," said Evans.
"The whole team is behind us and we have a long-term plan to get to where we all, ultimately, want to be. This is just the first step and I am extremely grateful to [team boss] Malcolm [Wilson] and M-Sport for this opportunity and their belief in my future.
"Of course we are under no illusion that it is going to be an easy year. We need to view it as a learning curve.
"There are a lot of specialist events that I have never previously contested, and the first half of the season will be about getting to the end of each rally with as much knowledge and experience as possible.
"Having Mikko and Jarmo in the team is certainly a big positive for us. They know what it takes to win at this level and we can learn a lot from them."