17 Dec 07
BP-Ford World Rally Team has confirmed Mikko Hirvonen and Jari-Matti Latvala as its official drivers for the 2008 FIA World Rally Championship season.
Hirvonen will step up into the role vacated by Marcus Gronholm while Latvala will be promoted as his team-mate.
Latvala's programme will start at Rallye Automobile Monte Carlo (January 25-27), when he will become the second youngest driver to have a full season as an official works rally driver.
"Ford of Europe is planning for a long-term success in the WRC. Our young but experienced team, with Mikko Hirvonen and Jari-Matti Latvala, is a clear statement of intent. We believe these two young Finns will become stars of the sport and we're delighted to offer them the opportunity to grow and develop with Ford over the next few season, while providing all-important stability and consistency within the team," said Ian Slater, Vice President Communications of Ford of Europe and Premium Automotive Group.
"First of all I'd like to thank Ford for the trust and confidence. I also would like to thank Stobart for their commitment to run Jari-Matti this year. He has gained confidence by the day and has developed into the most promising driver in the WRC this season. His performances on the second half of the season put him in pole position for the drive. Knowing that he will now be doing a large part of the testing, gives me confidence that his performance will only improve," said Malcolm Wilson, managing director at M-Sport.
"Marcus and Mikko have worked wonderfully together and I hope that Mikko will pass on to Jari-Matti the experience he has learned. If I look back, I'm proud to say that they both came to M-Sport for evaluation five years ago and now they are going to be partnered for the 2008 season," he added.