Malcolm Wilson has stepped down as team principal of M-Sport Ford World Rally Team to devote more time to the commercial aspects of his M-Sport business.
He will be replaced by Rich Millener, who will lead the team in next season’s FIA World Rally Championship after the British squad was confirmed as one of four registered manufacturer entrants this afternoon (Friday).
There were no surprises in the quartet. M-Sport is joined by Toyota Gazoo Racing, Hyundai Shell Mobis and the re-named Citroën Total World Rally Team.
Wilson has headed M-Sport’s day-to-day WRC operations since his company took over the running of Ford’s championship programme in 1997. He led the team to three manufacturers’ titles and two drivers’ crowns in 2017 and 2018 with Sébastien Ogier.
He will remain heavily involved in the programme but is unlikely to travel to all rounds in 2019 as he focuses on consolidating the 300-strong M-Sport company, which has been financially stretched by running six-time champion Ogier for the last two seasons.
“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,” Wilson explained.
“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.”
Millener joined M-Sport in 2006 in the parts and sales department and has worked closely alongside Wilson as his deputy in recent seasons.
“I’m really looking forward to taking charge of the team with the support of other senior members and it’s nice to have Malcolm’s belief that I could do the job. The pressure is gone to an extent with Seb leaving the team and now is a good time to change things over,” he said.
Teemu Suninen and Elfyn Evans have been retained to drive Fiesta World Rally Cars. Both will have new co-drivers as Marko Salminen partners the Finn and Scott Martin joins Evans after five seasons alongside Craig Breen.
Pontus Tidemand will drive a third Fiesta at the season-opening Rallye Monte-Carlo (24 - 27 January) and Rally Sweden (14 - 17 February). They mark the Swede’s first appearances in a new-generation World Rally Car.