Elfyn Evans will join Mikko Hirvonen
and Robert Kubica at M-Sport in 2014 and compete in all 13 World Rally Championship events in a Ford Fiesta RS WRC car.
The Welshman is currently one of the WRC's most promising up-and-coming young talents and he showcased some impressive pace in the WRC2 category in 2013. It was arguably his performance at Rally Italia Sardegna, however, 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 will now be given the opportunity to learn from Hirvonen's expertise whilst refining his own pace and experience ahead of what has been described as 'a prospective long-term campaign' with the Cumbrian firm.
“It is an absolutely fantastic feeling to know that I will be driving a world rally car for a full season next year!” said Evans, who is the son of 1996 British Rally champion, Gwyndaf. “Last year was a real development year for us, so it is great to be able to take the next step in my career and for myself and [co-driver] Dan [Barritt] to really progress within the team.
“The great thing about this programme is that it gives us time. The whole team is behind us and we have a long-term plan to get to where we all, ultimately, want to be. This is just the first step and I am extremely grateful to Malcolm [Wilson] and M-Sport for this opportunity and their belief in my future.”
“Of course we are under no illusion that it is going to be an easy year. We need to view it as a learning curve,” added the 24-year-old. “There are a lot of specialist events that I have never previously contested, and the first half of the season will be about getting to the end of each rally with as much knowledge and experience as possible.
“Having Mikko [Hirvonen] and Jarmo [Lehtinen, his co-driver] in the team is certainly a big positive for us [too]. They know what it takes to win at this level and we can learn a lot from them.”
M-Sport boss, Malcolm Wilson meanwhile is delighted with his line-up for 2014: “We have pitched [for] a combination of youth and experience for our assault on the 2014 FIA World Rally Championship,” Wilson explained, “and I have no doubt that Elfyn is ready for this opportunity. Over the course of the  season, he proved that he has both the mental strength and speed to learn whilst securing some very strong results.
“I am looking forward to seeing how he develops, and although we are not expecting him to challenge for any wins this season, his talent could certainly spring a few surprises. We have a long-term plan for Elfyn and Dan and this is just the first step along the path to championship success.”
Evans is a product of M-Sport and Ford's 'Ladder of Opportunity', which was created in 2005, to help the brightest talents progress to the top of the sport.
He started his career with the Ford / M-Sport partnership in 2007, winning the Ford Fiesta SportTrophy series in both the UK and Ireland. From there he progressed from the Ford Fiesta ST to the globally successful Ford Fiesta R2 and 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 WRC2 category swiftly followed with some inspired performances behind the wheel of the Ford Fiesta R5, and now in 2014, the Welshman will complete his ladder of success by lining-up for a full season in M-Sport's top-specification Fiesta.