Patrik Sandell, who secured second place in the inaugural SWRC standings and guided Red Bull Skoda to the FIA WRC Cup for Super 2000 Teams in 2010, has left the squad and will be replaced by Intercontinental Rally Challenge champion Juho Hanninen.
Joining Hanninen in the two-car team will be rising German star Hermann Gassner Jr, who impressed on several WRC appearances last term in a Group N4-specification Mitsubishi Lancer Evolution IX.
Raimund Baumschlager’s BRR operation will continue to run the Red Bull Skoda team from its base in Austria, where Baumschlager has achieved considerable success as a driver, winning his country’s domestic championship on nine occasions.
He said: “First of all, I wish to thank Skoda Motorsport and also Red Bull, our partner, for their support. We have only the best experience of cooperating with them, and they are both leaders in what they do. Juho has been one of the top drivers over the last few years, I remember him when he used to appear in PWRC - he was our toughest competitor in the battle for the championship title. At the same time, I know him as an excellent test driver and a great chap, too. I am sure that with him around we can think of the highest [positions].
“Hermann Gassner has a great opportunity to grow beside Juho and learn from him, in both tests and races. We are planning to appear in about seven events.”
Hanninen took part on two rounds of last year’s WRC. Although he retired from Vodafone Rally de Portugal, who dominated the SWRC section of Neste Oil Rally Finland after securing one of two wildcard entries to finish in ninth overall in a BRR-run Skoda.
“My target is the world championship so I’m happy to have my programme confirmed,” said the 29-year-old Finn. “My aim is to win the SWRC title, nothing else.”
Hanninen and Gassner Jr are expected to begin their SWRC campaigns on Rally Guanajuato Mexico in March.