M-Sport and Ford will be back in the service park for the 2019 FIA World Rally Championship after negotiations with team partners progressed to see their EcoBoost-powered Ford Fiesta WRC registered for the year.
Elyfn Evans will be back for a fifth year, joined by new co-driver Scott Martin, who started his international rally career with the team back in 2004.
Teemu Suninen will be back in action for the team for a third year, also with a new co-driver, Marko Salminen.
Joining the team for support at Rallye Monte-Carlo and Rally Sweden will be former Škoda driver Pontus Tidemand, reuniting with the team that carried him to the 2013 FIA WRC Academy victory.
The Swede last drove for the team in 2014 when he fought for a podium, this year will mark his first foray in to the new-generation of world rally car.
Amongst the confirmation of drivers and co-drivers it was also announced that Richard Millener will be stepping up to the role of Team Principal, allowing Malcolm Wilson more time to develop the commercial side of the M-Sport business.
“It has been a bit of a rollercoaster over the last few weeks,” said Wilson. “From the elation of winning the FIA World Rally Championship for Drivers and Co-drivers with Sébastien and Julien to their emotional farewell – and we have been working night and day to put together the pieces that go into making a team for 2019.
While the announcement will come as a relief for M-Sport fans, Wilson revealed that the full plan for the season is still to be fully confirmed.
“As I speak we still don’t have 100 percent of the details in place, but because of the huge amount of development work that has been going on behind the scenes; I felt that we had to make a commitment to see the hard work out on the stages. Working in collaboration with our partners in Europe and the US, every element has been reviewed and updated.
“The continued financial and technical collaboration with Ford has been pivotal in pushing us forward, and together we are working on a new and improved ‘ladder of opportunity,’ which began with the recently launched Ford Fiesta R2 earlier this month. We have always said that WRC is our shop window, and the development work we do at the highest level filters down to improve every step of the ladder.
As M-sport looks to secure its future as a business away from rallying and the race circuit, Wilson will concentrate on upcoming projects for the business.
“Next year is going to be a very important year for M-Sport. We have a number of new projects coming up including the launch of our Evaluation Centre at Dovenby Hall. We will continue to spread the net and work with existing partners – safeguarding the roles we have and taking advantage of any new opportunities that arise.
“We rely on the support of the whole WRC community to piece together the missing pieces, but we are confident we have the tools to do a good job and so we are making the decision to push forward and work through the challenges as they arrive!”