BLOG: Just How Ace Will WRC 2014 Be?

This year's WRC has been totally splendid – with VW making history dominating the drivers' and manufacturers' championships with their new Polo R, and the season ending on such a high with a VW 1-2 at a revitalised Wales Rally GB, as you can read in our latest issue here.
And with Hyundai stepping up to the plate with the fresh-faced i20 WRC for 2014 – with the youthful talent of the new Mr consistency, Thierry Neuville, the multi-surface skills of testing ace Juho Hänninen, the tarmac-terrorist, Dani Sordo and gravel giant, Chris Atkinson driving – the sport is looking in finer and finer shape. 
It's so great to have two new teams and their cool new cars to battle alongside the more establish Citroën Racing DS3 WRC and M-Sport's Ford Fiesta RS WRC. 
And the best news – for us British rally fans, who still miss the days of Burns & McRae doing battle with the best – is that we now have not one, but two British drivers in top teams and ace, established cars in the 2014 WRC.
Kris Meeke gets a WRC seat with co-driver Paul Nagle (racing alongside Mads Østberg/Jonas Andersson) in an all-new Citroën Total Abu Dhabi World Rally Team line up, which you can read about here
And now, after a storming season in WRC2 – including his win at Wales Rally GB by a country mile – Malcolm Wilson has gifted Welshman, Elfyn Evans an M-Sport drive in the Fiesta RS WRC in 2014. Yay!
Both announcements are massive boosts for UK rallying – coming following what was without doubt the best Wales Rally GB for years – and they make for a thrilling prospect for 2014 WRC, for all rally fans, but especially us Brits.  
Andrew Coe, Chief Executive of Wales Rally GB organiser International Motor Sports is understandably ecstatic at the prospect of having two British drivers back at the sport’s highest level, saying: "This is just fantastic news for the sport in the UK and, in particular Wales. We were thrilled when Citroen signed Kris and now we are further excited that M-Sport has given Elfyn this equally fabulous opportunity. To have a Welsh driver competing at the forefront of the World Championship is a great reward for the Welsh Government, which has been a great supporter of our sport for more than a decade.
"The timing couldn’t be much better either, coming so soon after the huge success of last month’s revitalised Wales Rally GB. The move to a new base in north Wales saw the reintroduction of some classic forest stages and a huge leap in spectator numbers – the only ingredient missing was a British driver in contention for victory. Now, with Kris and Elfyn both in major teams, we have two potential British winners."
Evans is widely hailed as one of the sport’s brightest up-and-coming talents. The baby-faced 24-year-old – son of 1996 British Rally Champion and rally stalwart, Gwyndaf Evans – won the WRC Academy in 2012 and last year impressed in the WRC2 category, notably when taking top class honours on Wales Rally GB on his home soil.
Now the youngster and his co-driver Daniel Barritt graduate to one of two officially entered M-Sport Fiesta RS WRCs as team-mates to multiple WRC winner Mikko Hirvonen, who is due a better year and is sure to come out fighting, especially after his muddy, unceremonious roll in Wales!
"It is an absolutely fantastic feeling to know that I will be driving a world rally car for a full season next year!" admitted a delighted Evans. "For Dan and I it is great to be able to take the next step in our careers. 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 M-Sport for this opportunity and their belief in my future."
Roll on 2014! It's going to be so good to see two such talented, different British rally drivers at the top of the sport again, winning stages, rallies, even WRC titles… just like the good old Burns-McRae era, only different, as it's now Irishman Vs Welshman, not Scot Vs Englishman. I'm sure there's a joke in there somewhere… 
We wish (the experienced, yet untested properly in WRC) Kris and (the WRC2 master and young gun) Elfyn all the best and you can follow their news here, on Facebook and Twitter with Road Magazine… British rally fans to the core! 

Read our latest Rally GB special FREE here.


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