Elfyn Evans will compete in next year’s World Rally Championship as his M-Sport team committed to the campaign.
The Dolgellau-born driver’s career at the highest level of world rallying had been under a cloud with the Cumbria-based team battling to find the finances to compete.
M-Sport had been on the verge of ending its 22-year unbroken run of WRC participation because it was unable to find the funding for 2019.
But team principal Malcolm Wilson has today confirmed M-Sport will run at least three cars in the first two rounds of next season including January’s season opener in Monte Carlo.
Evans will spearhead the Ford-powered outfit’s challenge with Sebastien Ogier haven left after winning the title for the team for the past two years.
He will be joined by new co-driver Scott Martin, the Cumbrian linking up again with the team where he started his career in 2004.
The 29-year-old and Teemu Suninen will stay on at the team for the full 14-round calendar, with 2017 WRC2 champion Pontus Tidemand alongside them for the opening rounds in Monte Carlo and Sweden.
(Dai Sport’s rally expert Paul Evans revealed the issues of M-Sport’s funding in this article in October)
Evans would have struggled to land another top-level drive for 2019 had M-Sport been unable to continue with the new season just weeks away.
Wilson said: “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.
“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.
“The continued financial and technical collaboration with Ford has been pivotal in pushing us forward, and together we are working on a new and improved ‘ladder of opportunity,’ which began with the recently launched Ford Fiesta R2 earlier this month. We have always said that WRC is our shop window, and the development work we do at the highest level filters down to improve every step of the ladder.
“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!”