M-Sport Ford has formally confirmed its three-car entry into the 2019 World Rally Championship, while long-time boss Malcolm Wilson brings in Richard Millener as new team principal.

Following reigning WRC champion Sebastien Ogier’s switch to Citroen for 2019, M-Sport has retained both Elfyn Evans and Teemu Suninen to become the squad’s two full-time drivers in the championship with the Ford Fiesta WRC car.

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Both drivers with have new co-drivers for 2019 with Evans starting a fresh partnership with Scott Martin while Suninen joins up with fellow Finn Marko Salminen.

WRC2 star Pontus Tidemand has been named in the third M-Sport Ford for the opening two rounds, Rallye Monte-Carlo and Rally Sweden, with the remainder of the season to be confirmed at a later date.

Wilson remains M-Sport boss as managing director but hands over team principal duties to Millener to allow him to focus on the commercial side of the business in 2019.

The M-Sport chief concedes there have been mixed emotions following Ogier’s title triumph at Rally Australia last month before his departure from the team but is confident the Ford-supported squad can maintain its fight into 2019.

“It has been a bit of a rollercoaster over the last few weeks – from the elation of winning the FIA World Rally Championship for Drivers and Co-drivers with Sébastien and Julien to their emotional farewell – and we have been working night and day to put together the pieces that go into making a team for 2019,” Wilson said.

“As I speak we still don’t have 100 percent of the details in place, but because of the huge amount of development work that has been going on behind the scenes; I felt that we had to make a commitment to see the hard work out on the stages. Working in collaboration with our partners in Europe and the US, every element has been reviewed and updated.

“Next year is going to be a very important year for M-Sport. We have a number of new projects coming up including the launch of our Evaluation Centre at Dovenby Hall. We will continue to spread the net and work with existing partners – safeguarding the roles we have and taking advantage of any new opportunities that arise. 

“We rely on the support of the whole WRC community to piece together the missing pieces, but we are confident we have the tools to do a good job and so we are making the decision to push forward and work through the challenges as they arrive.”

The official M-Sport confirmation for 2019 comes on the final day for Rallye Monte-Carlo entries with the season opener taking place between January 24-27.