Novikov and Nueville secure WRC drives with Qatar M-Sport

M-Sport boss Malcolm Wilson and Evgeny Novikov at Rally Australia in 2011

M-Sport boss Malcolm Wilson and Evgeny Novikov at Rally Australia in 2011

The newly formed Qatar M-Sport World Rally Team has finalised it’s lineup for a four car attack on the 2013 FIA World Rally Championship with the announcement of Evgeny Novikov and Thierry Neuville to the squad.

Driving the Ford Fiesta RS WRC on all 13 rounds of next season’s championship, both drivers will represent the State of Qatar alongside Nasser Al-Attiyah and Mads Østberg as the quartet look to make their mark on the world stage.

“I am very glad to be representing Qatar and M-Sport next year. I would like to express huge gratitude to all those who supported me and believed in me: my mentor Mikhail Lepekhov, Malcolm Wilson, my family and my fans,” said Novikov.

“In 2013 we will fight at the top level and do our best to please those who have supported us all these years.”

While Novikov has a fine-tuned understanding of the M-Sport World Rally Car machinery having contested the 2012 season with the squad, his Belgian teammate will have some learning ahead of him having moved over from Citroen’s junior WRC squad.

Nueville however, did start his career as part of the Belgian Ford Fiesta Sport Trophy series in 2008, but this will mark his first full season in the sport’s top flight machinery behind the blue oval badge.

“It is a great honour for me to represent Qatar and M-Sport on all 13 rounds of next season’s championship,” said Nueville.

“I am now focussed on preparing for Rally Monte-Carlo and really looking forward to the start of this new adventure.”

Novikov will be partnered by female, Austrain co-driver Ilka Minor who has a wealth of experience as a WRC co-driver over the past decade. With 36 WRC starts to his name, the Russian secured two podium finishes in 2012 – the first, in Portugal, making him the youngest ever driver to stand on a WRC podium at just 21 years old.

Having contested 20 WRC events to date, Neuville has already notched up 11 stage victories in the world series and claimed a career-best result at this year’s Rallye de France-Alsace when he finished fourth.

In other rally news, Australian youngster Brendan Reeves was handed the opportunity of a lifetime when he was invited to test the current spec Ford Fiesta World Rally Car. The test was a reward for Reeves impressive performance throughout the year in the FIA WRC Academy.

Check out the video of Reeves test.

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