Novikov plans cautious return
|By Matt Beer||Friday, February 25th 2011, 17:18 GMT|
World Rally Championship returnee Evgeny Novikov insists he will drive cautiously when he rejoins the series for next week's Rally Mexico.
The 20-year-old former Citroen Junior driver had to sit out the 2010 WRC due to a funding shortfall, competing in his native Russia instead.
He has now secured a partial WRC programme with Stobart Ford this year, but despite his hard-charging reputation, Novikov is adamant that his Mexico strategy will be conservative.
"For obvious reasons, I am not planning to fight for a high result in Mexico and I am not planning to drive to the limit," he said.
"It is a wonderful opportunity to try out the new Fiesta RS WRC and I will have a first chance to try the new car at Rally Mexico's shakedown which I consider as an ideal place to get acquainted with the car.
"The new class is a novelty for everyone and everyone needs some time to adapt and get used to the new cars."
Ford WRC boss Malcolm Wilson told this week's AUTOSPORT magazine that he had high hopes for Novikov's and his partnership with new co-driver Stephane Prevot.
"If you look through Novikov's history, he's been blisteringly quick," said Wilson. "There's no question he's got huge potential. He's also got an experienced co-driver. It's a promising combination."
Novikov struggled to add consistency to his speed when he last drove in the WRC in 2009, and became well-known for spectacular jumps and accidents. His best result at world level so far is fifth in Sardinia two years ago.