FERM driver Dennis Kuipers will make a return to the World Rally Championship next week as he joins the Qatar World Rally Team fold for the 2013 Vodafone Rally de Portugal, it has been announced.
Kuipers will take to Juho Hanninen's M-Sport-run Ford Fiesta RS WRC as the Finn - who was due to make a welcome return to the team - is regrettably unable to attend due to 'personal reasons'.
Kuipers is well versed when it comes to Rally de Portugal and M-Sport's WRC specification Fiesta. Indeed, contesting the event last year, he and fellow countryman, Robin Buysmans – who will once again be calling the notes for the Dutchman – recorded one of their best ever results when they took their Fiesta RS WRC to sixth place overall.
Notably, Kuipers also holds the record for the best ever performance by a Dutch driver at rallying's highest level – piloting a similar Fiesta RS WRC to fifth place at the 2011 Rallye de France-Alsace.
“Firstly I want to send my best wishes to Juho and his family and I am sure the team will agree that it won't be quite the same without him and Tomi [Tuominen, Hanninen's co-driver] in the service park,” said Kuipers.
“But I also need to say a big thank-you to [M-Sport boss] Malcolm [Wilson] and Nasser [Al-Attiyah] for making it possible for me to compete in Juho's absence. I really enjoy this event and it holds a lot of good memories for me.
“I can't wait to get back to the World Rally Championship and I am really looking forward to working with M-Sport once again.”