M-Sport confirms return of Mikko Hirvonen & Elfyn Evans for WRC 2014

Today, M-Sport officially confirmed the return of its former driver, Mikko Hirvonen, who after 8-year drive had moved to Citroen during 2012-13. Joining the attack lineup for 2014 along with the veteran would be the younger Elfyn Evans.

Read the excerpts of the official news-report, here below.
M-Sport will field a mix of youth and experience in the 2014 FIA World Rally Championship (WRC) as the winning potential of Mikko Hirvonen and Jarmo Lehtinen are combined with the raw talent and ambition of Elfyn Evans and Daniel Barritt. Both crews will take to the Cumbrian firm's Ford Fiesta RS WRC for all 13 rounds of next season's championship.

The news that Hirvonen is coming home will bring a smile to the face of many a rally fan. Having started his WRC career with the Ford / M-Sport operation in 2003, the Finn enjoyed eight years behind the wheel of M-Sport machinery and was instrumental in securing Ford's back-to-back manufacturers' titles in 2006 and 2007. With fourteen of his fifteen victories claimed with M-Sport's range of award-winning rally cars, Hirvonen's return also provides the team with a real contender for rally wins.

The Finn is hungry for success. Having finished as vice champion on four separate occasions, he was one of nine-time world champion Sébastien Loeb's main rivals and missed out on the 2009 championship laurels by a single point.

As he and Lehtinen return to the team which delivered the bulk of their success, the squad will be keen to see the Fiesta RS WRC piloted to the best of its potential. Since parting ways with M-Sport in 2012, the two Finns remained a popular crew in the eyes of the M-Sport family, and their homecoming brings a real enthusiasm for the season ahead.

Occupying the seat of the sister M-Sport Fiesta RS WRC, is one of rallying's most promising up-and-coming young talents. Evans' breakthrough performance in 2013 saw him elevated to the top of WRC competition. The Welshman showcased some impressive pace in the WRC 2 category, but it was arguably his performance at Rally Italia Sardegna which saw him stamp his authority on the world stage.

A world rally car debut is no mean feat, but when combined with unknown stages, an unfamiliar co-driver and a mere two days of preparation, the youngster's sixth place finish was a revelation which saw him join an elite group of 'rookies' to have impressed to such an extent on their world rally car debut.

Working closely with the team, Evans and Barritt will be given the opportunity to learn from their team-mates' expertise whilst refining their own pace and experience ahead of a prospective long-term campaign with the Cumbrian firm.

In 2005, Ford and M-Sport set out to create an effective 'Ladder of Opportunity' through which rallying's brightest talents might progress to the pinnacle of the sport. Evans provides a near-perfect example of that system in operation.

The youngster started his career with the Ford / M-Sport partnership in 2007, winning the Ford Fiesta SportTrophy series in both the UK and Ireland. Progressing from the Ford Fiesta ST to the globally successful Ford Fiesta R2, it was not long before he was a regular on the WRC stage – winning the 2012 FIA WRC Academy Cup with a dominant display on both gravel and asphalt. The WRC 2 category swiftly followed with some inspired performances behind the wheel of the Ford Fiesta R5, and in 2014, the Welshman will complete his ladder of success by lining-up for a full season in M-Sport's top-specification Fiesta.
Read the complete report here.

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Hyundai Showes Off its Colors / Citroen Recruits New Lineup of Drivers

Finally we get to see some eye-catching colours in a WRC car after a long time. Hyundai unveiled the livery of its i20 WRC, and after which most assembled at the venue carrying smiles around, perhaps even back home. Many of us from the online community too were mesmerised with the livery and were praising for the different looks of the machine. 

Partnered with Shell, the team will run under the name of Hyundai Shell World Rally Team.

Shell is delighted to be returning to the WRC in 2014 with Hyundai,” said Colin Abraham, Shell Vice President Marketing [Fuels and Lubricants]. “Shell and Hyundai have worked closely together to deliver a high quality product to customers around the world for more than eight years. We bring a genuine understanding of each other’s strengths to this exciting new team as the Hyundai i20 WRC prepares for its first competitive season.

We have seen it being evolved for sometime now, and now its colourful outlook. All we need to wait is for a little more than a month to see it in competition in Rallye Montecarlo.

We have worked tremendously hard to get where we are today and to be able to launch our new WRC team to the world,” said Team Principal of Hyundai Motorsport GmbH, Michel Nandan. “In less than one year, we have built and tested a brand new WRC-specification car, the Hyundai i20 WRC, and established a professional team and modern motorsport facility. It’s a huge accomplishment but we know that we have a lot to learn in our first season. Our aims for 2014 are realistic: we want to finish each rally with both cars and build up a database of information and experience so we can develop ourselves into prospective rally winners in the future. If all goes well, we will hope to be competing for occasional podiums as the year progresses.

Thierry Neuville is going to be a permanent driver of choice, as long as he delivers what he has been hired for, otherwise the new regulations states that there is no necessity to hold on to any one driver for more than 10 rounds in a season.

There is quite a long lineup of reserve or non-permanent seat on the no.2 car. Juho Hanninen, Dani Sordo & Chris Atkinson will take their positions in the game of musical chair in the rest of the season, starting from Dani in Montecarlo, later with Juho in Rally Sweden and Atko will drive in Rally Mexico & Rally Australia. The rest of the rounds will be decided individually later.

And lastly, if you are wondering what that 'N' stands for, it is for the first version of the WRC car developed at Namyang, Korea at Hyundai's R&D center. Also the Hyundai's Europe is intent to develop a road going cars in the 'N' series, with technology implementation from the WRC car, is what the Hyundai's official announced. They perhaps, wants to emulate the 'R' series of various manufacturer's, like Volkswagen's Polo R and also maybe like 'M' series from BMW.

Citroen Recruits New Lineup of Drivers

On the other hand, Citroen has changed the two main drivers' lineup to Brit's Kris Meeke & Norway's Mads Ostberg in the coming 2014 season. Although the official press-release is on 16th this month, they couldn't hold themselves and shared the drivers' lineup.

Abu Dhabi's driver Khalid Al-Qassimi will continue to drive in a third car for a few selected events and will concentrate for MERC in a Citroen DS3 RRC.

Now the M-Sport is left as a team to announce its line of attack, since Volkswagen has no intent to change their attack formula!
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Hyundai Motorsport - Official WRC Team Unveils Today!

In less than three hours, today [11.00 CET], Hyundai Motorsport GmBH is all set to officially unveil their World Rally Team to the world, with its lineup and attack strategy for the upcoming 2014 WRC season, and most importantly i20 WRC's livery! Although, most of us kind of know almost all of the info, but an official statement will pull the curtains to their original intent and formula the team will follow through, atleast its initial debut year.

The presence of their lead drivers [& co-drivers] Thierry Neuville, Juho Hanninen & Dani Sordo [?!] are most likely to be present along with their team principal Michel Nandan & Hyundai Europe's channel team. It is a definite question, whether their initial test drivers - Bryan Bouffier & Chris Atkinson will get to drive!? If not, atleast hoping to see them today. Lets end the speculation and see what they are upto in a matter of couple or more hours!

The event will be live streamed over the internet, and we too are showcasing here below.

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