Elfyn Evans has confirmed he is to remain with M-Sport in 2016 and will contest in WRC 2 in the updated Ford Fiesta R5.
The Welsh driver has been dropped by M-Sport's WRC driver line-up after two full seasons in the premier category, claiming two rostrum results last year in Argentina and France respectively, but Evans has been retained by Malcolm Wilson's squad to compete in the WRC 2 category in 2016.
The 27-year-old will be running in the new Ford Fiesta R5 which has undergone extensive upgrades over the past six months of development. The team used a number of WRC jokers to increase engine performance as well as a new clutch and flywheel which sees the engine gain an extra 32bhp at 4500rpm and 56Nm of torque at 4000rpm.
M-Sport also confirmed the remaining jokers will be used on chassis upgrades in March.
Evans, who has been confirmed to start both Rallye Monte Carlo (21-24 January) and Rally Sweden (12-14 February) in WRC 2, is eager to test out the new Ford Fiesta R5 with its updates and has also thanked his former co-driver Dan Barritt who moves on while Evans will be joined by fellow countryman Craig Parry in 2016.
“This programme will allow me to continue my development as I gain further experience of the FIA World Rally Championship events,” Evans said. “I know the Ford Fiesta R5 to be a competitive car and the upgrades look extremely promising. I'm looking forward to getting back behind the wheel and proving the extent of M-Sport's development.
“I would also like to thank Dan [Barritt] for what has been three great years of co-operation. His knowledge and experience has taught me a great deal and I am extremely grateful for all he has done.
“Now it's time to start a new chapter with a new co-driver and I am looking forward to working with Craig as we look to achieve our shared goals and ambitions.”
M-Sport managing director Malcolm Wilson OBE says he was eager to retain Evans for 2016 despite axing him from his WRC driver line-up and sees the Welshman as the perfect person to work on the upgraded Ford having competed with the Fiesta R5 for the past three years.
“We were keen to keep Elfyn in the team and this programme will allow him to continue his progression and gain further experience away from the pressures of the top flight,” Wilson explained. “Launching the new evolution Fiesta R5, we were eager to have an experienced driver behind the wheel and I believe that Elfyn will do a great job of proving the extent of our upgrades.
“The Fiesta R5 was already a highly competitive package – winning the FIA European Rally Championship last year – and these upgrades should see Elfyn keep our latest Fiesta at the top of the WRC 2 standings.”