Belfast Telegraph

Evans gets Monte Carlo chance against Meeke and Breen

By Sammy Hamill

Ulster Rally winner Elfyn Evans will line up against Kris Meeke and Craig Breen for the opening round of the World Rally Championship in Monte Carlo this month.

The future of the 28-year-old Welshman has been the subject of continued speculation ever since he emulated his father, Gwyndaf, by winning in Ulster and subsequently becoming British champion.

But the Monte Carlo entry list confirms he will be returning to the World championship with the M-Sport Ford team to drive one of the new 2017-specification WRC Fiestas alongside World champion Sebastien Ogier and Estonian Ott Tanak.

However Evans, who was dropped by M-Sport at the end of 2015 after two seasons in the WRC, will use DMACK tyres while Ogier and Tanak will run on Michelins, the choice for most top teams.

Last year's Monte winners Ogier and co-driver Julien Ingrassia, who have switched to Ford following the withdrawal of the all-conquering Volkswagen team in November, are listed at number one - the first time an M-Sport car has started the season in such a position.

Meeke leads the Citroen challenge, the Ulsterman and young Frenchman Stephane Lefebvre driving a pair of the new C3 WRC cars, while Circuit of Ireland winner Breen will be on board one of the 2016-specification DS3s for this rally.

He is expected to make his debut in a 2017 car on Rally Sweden next month.

Under the new regulations, which see the introduction of more powerful, more aerodynamic cars, each team can register three drivers, the leading two on each event scoring manufacturer championship points.

While Hyundai field three new i20s for Hayden Paddon, Thierry Neuville and Dani Sordo, Toyota, who are returning to the championship after a 16-year gap, will start with two for Jari-Matti Latvala and another former Circuit of Ireland winner Juho Hanninen.

Skoda, who won the WRC2 series with Esapekka Lappi, the 2014 Circuit of Ireland winner, return but with Andreas Mikkelsen spearheading its attack and Jan Kopecky running as his team-mate in the second factory Fabia R5.

Mikkelsen, the third member of the defunct VW team, has indicated he hopes to be back in a WRC car for Rally Sweden.

Eric Camilli's demotion to a Fiesta R5 is also confirmed by M-Sport's WRC2 entry for the Frenchman on the Monaco and Gap-based rally which starts on January 19.

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