Novikov and Neuville to contest full 2013 WRC season with M-Sport

Evgeny Novikov and Thierry Neuville will contest all 13 rounds of next year's World Rally Championship with M-Sport

Novikov and Neuville to contest full 2013 WRC season with M-Sport

Novikov, 22, and Neuville, 24, join Mads Ostberg and Nasser Al-Attiyah at the team.

Novikov finished sixth in this year's championship and also became the youngest man to stand on a WRC podium when he finished third on the road - which became second when Mikko Hirvonen was excluded - in Portugal.

Neuville meanwhile has claimed 11 stage wins across the 20 WRC events he has entered, with his fourth place in this year's Rally France his best result.

M-Sport boss Malcolm Wilson believes both drivers will impress in 2013 despite their young age and relative inexperience.

"Evgeny [Novikov] and Thierry [Neuville] are young, but they have both shown some real maturity this year - combining obvious speed with a determination to finish all of the events and gain as much knowledge of the stages as possible," Wilson said.

"Both have regularly challenged the factory drivers, and their 2012 results were thoroughly deserved. I am confident that both drivers have more to prove and that we will see more impressive performances from them in 2013.

"We have a young team for next year, but this by no means detracts from their ability to produce some strong results.

"All of them, Mads [Ostberg], Evgeny [Novikov] and Thierry [Neuville], proved their worth in 2012 and, with guidance from Nasser [Al-Attiyah], they can all be fantastic ambassadors for M-Sport and the WRC."

AUTOSPORT SAYS
Matt Beer

The erstwhile Ford works team faces the might of Volkswagen and Citroen with a driver line-up that can boast only a smattering of podiums and one (inherited) win between them.

But that statistic could not be more irrelevant, because in Neuville, Novikov and Ostberg, Malcolm Wilson has scooped up every talent-laden rough diamond youngster he could lay his hands on. It's not about the results this trio has already delivered - it's about the wins and titles they could eventually bring as they mature.

It's a gamble, of course. Citroen knows exactly what it is getting with Mikko Hirvonen and Dani Sordo - but it also knows their limitations compared to a Sebastien Loeb.

M-Sport's drivers are still blossoming and developing. Ostberg needs to produce his world-beating pace across a whole weekend (a full season and testing will surely help).

Novikov needs to deliver fewer YouTube sensation leaps and shunts - but 2012 was a big step in that regard. Yes, he rolled a few cars and erstwhile co-driver Denis Giraudet was sidelined with a back injury, but Russia's rally hope also proved he could take wisely-judged podiums.

The poise Neuville showed when beating Andreas Mikkelsen and Juho Hanninen (another big, big talent now in the M-Sport fold) to Intercontinental Rally Challenge wins in an inferior Peugeot in 2011 was often absent in his WRC rookie season this year.

But the speed remained - it was just all too often hidden by Rally 2 penalties following early mistakes. His second IRC season was a night and day progression over his first. Rivals should fear the same happening in the WRC.

Of course M-Sport could find its service area littered with debris from young guns trying too hard to make the most of their chance. But right now, its scintillating driver choice is another big step in the WRC's revival.

shares
comments
Sebastien Ogier regrets missing out on Sebastien Loeb showdown

Previous article

Sebastien Ogier regrets missing out on Sebastien Loeb showdown

Next article

Sebastian Ogier downplays being one of 2013 WRC favourites

Sebastian Ogier downplays being one of 2013 WRC favourites
Load comments
Remembering Colin McRae’s final WRC win Plus

Remembering Colin McRae’s final WRC win

The Safari Rally returns to the World Rally Championship this weekend for the first time since 2002 - when crowd favourite Colin McRae set aside the maximum attack style for which he was renowned to deliver a textbook third win

WRC
Jun 23, 2021
How Hyundai's broken record gave Toyota a special Sardinia 1-2 Plus

How Hyundai's broken record gave Toyota a special Sardinia 1-2

For the second WRC gravel rally in a row, a promising Friday for Hyundai turned into desolation as Toyota gratefully picked up the pieces. This time it was championship leader Sebastien Ogier who took full advantage after Ott Tanak and Dani Sordo retired to score a memorable victory, having swept the road on the first two days

WRC
Jun 7, 2021
How Hyundai's latest self-destruction handed Evans Portugal victory Plus

How Hyundai's latest self-destruction handed Evans Portugal victory

At one point Hyundai held the top three positions in Portugal, but when trouble struck the Korean marque's two leading chargers, a grateful Elfyn Evans was on hand to see off Hyundai third man Dani Sordo and become the third different winner in four rallies

WRC
May 24, 2021
Why the success of AVB's WRC debut won't be defined on the stages Plus

Why the success of AVB's WRC debut won't be defined on the stages

Three years after a Dakar Rally crash resulted in him being airlifted to hospital, Andre Villas-Boas is preparing to make his debut on his home round of the World Rally Championship later this month. His goals for the event are modest, but the same cannot be said for the charities he plans to promote where his true impact could be felt

WRC
May 13, 2021
Why there's no easy fix for Hyundai's operational Achilles Heel Plus

Why there's no easy fix for Hyundai's operational Achilles Heel

Hyundai Motorsport boss Andrea Adamo was vocal in his criticism of his team's tyre choices on Rally Croatia and declared that he "had better move my ass and solve it". Doing so will be vital to getting Hyundai's 2021 WRC title hopes back on track, but finding the root of the problem won't be the work of a moment

WRC
Apr 28, 2021
How Ogier held on after a shock bump in the road to triumph in Croatia Plus

How Ogier held on after a shock bump in the road to triumph in Croatia

Sebastien Ogier was already in an incredibly tight fight at Rally Croatia before a surprise collision with public road traffic at the start of the final day. But the defending champion held his nerve to take a narrow victory and create further World Rally Championship history

WRC
Apr 26, 2021
Why the casualty of rallying's evolution should still be cherished Plus

Why the casualty of rallying's evolution should still be cherished

The WRC's support categories are in a process of streamlining that will spell the end of a formalised 2WD world championship-level category. While its relevance to the top level has been questioned for some time, that doesn't mean it should be swept quietly under the carpet

WRC
Apr 5, 2021
Why WRC's hybrid path could leave it at a crossroads Plus

Why WRC's hybrid path could leave it at a crossroads

With all three major manufacturers committing to the World Rally Championship’s hybrid era from 2022, the future of the series is assured for now, but it could lead to trickier twists and turns further down the road

WRC
Apr 1, 2021