Finland gets another top-line driver in the WRC for 2013 with the announcement that former Škoda ace Juho Hänninen will compete in an M-Sport Ford Fiesta.
Hänninen won the 2010 Intercontinental Rally Challenge and the 2011 Super 2000 World Rally Championship at the wheel of a Fabia S2000 but left the Czech squad at the end of this season. Although initially plans were made for him to compete in a MINI WRC next year, the withdrawal of Ford made a top-line seat available and Hänninen brings not only talent but, crucially, sufficient sponsorship funding to suit team boss Malcolm Wilson’s needs.
“I want to thank Škoda for the past four years,” said Hänninen in an M-Sport statement. “Together we won all we aimed for, but unfortunately the two-year programme they offered me wouldn’t have taken my career forward. My life’s ambition has been to compete at the highest level of rallying, in WRC, and succeed there. Now my wish has come true with the car M-Sport will provide me.”
Hänninen’s regular co-driver, Mikko Markkula, will co-drive for Andreas Mikkelsen in the works Volkswagen on next year’s WRC, the Finn welcomes experienced countryman, Tomi Tuominen, on board for 2013. With 21 WRC starts to his name, Tuominen has navigated for the likes of Sebastian Lindholm and Toni Gardemeister.
“I´ve known Tomi for years,” said Hänninen. “He´s an experienced co-driver and I believe our co-operation will be great.”