Mon 09 Oct 2023

WRC drivers who returned to their former teams

Ott Tänak is going back to Hyundai Motorsport next season for his second stint with the Korean manufacturer. This comes on the back of a second stint with M-Sport Ford. But returning to a former team is nothing new in the FIA World Rally Championship. Here are some of the notable drivers who went back.

Four-time world champion Juha Kankkunen would have to be one of the kings of the big return. In a history-making, illustrious career, the Finn went back to a team three times. Having started his professional career with Toyota, he departed the then German based squad only to be back twice more. He joined Lancia in 1987, left, then came back for three years in a Delta between 1990 and 1992. 

Armin Schwarz was another driver who came, went and came back to Toyota (and Škoda later in his career). Didier Auriol’s two terms at Toyota were split by the 1996 season when the team was banned, so maybe that one doesn’t count.


Richard Burns was famously on the verge of a return to Subaru in 2004 – but don’t forget the Englishman started his WRC career in an Impreza, then moved to Mitsubishi before heading back to an Impreza to win his 2001 title.

Frenchman François Delecour was a Ford man before he went to Peugeot before returning to Ford to drive a Focus in 2001. It was around that time that Petter Solberg left Ford for Subaru before he went back to an M-Sport-made car for 2012. Mikko Hirvonen’s another M-Sport star who went back to the British team for another season – in what turned out to be his final year in the WRC in 2014. 

More recently Esapekka Lappi and Craig Breen have joined the list. Having started his top-line career with Toyota Gazoo Racing in 2017, Lappi left the Finnish-based team to join Citroën in 2019. The now 32-year-old was back TGR as a part-time driver in 2022, before switching to Hyundai for this season.

Breen was another returnee to Hyundai. The Irishman had left in Hyundai for a full-time drive with M-Sport Ford in the 2022 season, before returning to the German-based Hyundai squad for a part-time programme in 2023, which was tragically cut short in April.

See… nothing new in going home.

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