M-Sport has taken confirmation that Thierry Neuville has decided to lead Hyundai Motorsport's return to the World Rally Championship on the chin, with MD Malcolm Wilson insisting that his team continues to plan for next season.
Hyundai announcement that Neuville has signed a 'multi-year deal' to drive the new i20 WRC [ see separate story
] didn't come as a total shock to series veteran Wilson, who admitted last month that he believed the Belgian to be deciding between the two operations, but losing the talented youngster still leaves a hole in his line-up for 2014.
Despite that, however, M-Sport – which covered the blow of Ford's decision to end its works involvement by landing backing from Qatar ahead of the current campaign – will continue to work towards a multi-car entry on next year's WRC.
“We are obviously disappointed that Thierry has made the decision to go to Hyundai after a strong performance from all the team this year,” Wilson admitted, “However, now that he has made the decision, our focus turns to Wales Rally GB and securing his second position in the drivers' championship.
“Once this goal is achieved, we will then redirect our attention to the 2014 season. We are speaking to a number of drivers about potential options. M-Sport has a strong history of developing drivers in the WRC and we look forward to announcing our 2014 programme in the near future."
Neuville, Mads Ostberg, Evgeny Novikov and Nasser Al-Attiyah all drove for the Cumbrian outfit on events in 2013, and Citroen's Mikko Hirvonen is already being mentioned as a possible contender for one of the seats next season.
Neuville, meanwhile, thanked Wilson and his team for helping put him on the WRC map in 2013, where four consecutive runner-up results and two earlier third-place finishes see him sitting second in the standings with one rally left to run.
"It has been a fantastic year as we have achieved more than hoped for at the start of it,” the Belgian commented, “I would like to thank all of the team who have done a great job. The car has been great, with no problems for twelve rallies, but the story is not finished yet.
“We have a chance to finish second in the drivers' championship and we will put all our attention on this goal next week at Wales Rally GB. I would like to take this opportunity to thank Malcolm and the team at M-Sport for all their help and look forward to pushing for success in Wales."