Mikko Hirvonen will return to drive for M-Sport in the 2014 World Rally Championship, it has been confirmed.
Hirvonen will tackle all 13 rounds in the Cumbrian firm's Ford Fiesta RS WRC, with Welshman Elfyn Evans promoted to drive the second car. Robert Kubica
will also compete in an M-Sport-run Fiesta RS WRC with backing from Lotos.
The Finn started his WRC career with the Ford / M-Sport operation in 2003 and 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.
He is hungry for success and having finished as vice champion on four separate occasions, he was one of nine-time world champion Sebastien Loeb's main rivals at times and missed out on the 2009 championship laurels by a single point, will be eager to return to winning ways after a difficult two-year stint with Citroen.
Indeed he failed to win a single event in 2013 – and only won once with the DS3 WRC, when he triumphed in Sardinia in 2012.
Despite that though, he insists the move to Citroen was 'good' and is confident he can be a title contender in 2014.
“To be back in a Ford Fiesta RS WRC, it really feels as though I am coming home,” Hirvonen stated.
“The last two years were really good for myself and [co-driver] Jarmo [Lehtinen], but although we will take a lot of good memories with us, we didn't necessarily achieve what we set out to do.
“Joining M-Sport will give us a good chance to try again – a fresh start in a car we know we can be competitive in. We are motivated to win, and we are in the best possible place to do that.
“There are definitely some rallies that we will be targeting. We know that the Fiesta is competitive on every surface, but Sweden and Finland are two rallies that I particularly enjoy. Ultimately however, I want to be in a position to fight throughout the entire season. I want to be a contender for the championship, and at M-Sport, we can achieve that.”
M-Sport boss Malcolm Wilson meanwhile has faith that Hirvonen still has what it takes to deliver even though 2013 was pretty underwhelming and disappointing for the Finn, who nevertheless still took five podiums.
“Mikko has always been a very popular member of the team. He has done well here in the past, and he provides us with the potential to battle for victories at a number of events throughout the year. We all know what he is capable of behind the wheel of a Fiesta, and he has lost none of his ambition and determination to win,” Wilson stated.