Éric Camilli and Benjamin Veillas will be joined by Teemu Suninen and Mikko Markkula this year as both crews take to the wheel of the EcoBoost-powered Ford Fiesta R5 for campaigns in the FIA World Rally Championship’s principal support series – WRC 2.
Both Fiestas will carry liveries that draw inspiration from the geometric ‘disguise’ livery which adorned the all-new Ford Fiesta WRC test car and forms the base designs for M-Sport’s lead drivers – Sébastien Ogier and Ott Tänak.
Having amassed 159 victories across 29 different countries, the Fiesta R5 secured more individual wins than any other R5 in 2016. With the highest reliability rating to boot, this combination of performance and durability makes the Fiesta the ideal choice for competitors around the globe.
Pairing the Fiesta’s strengths with two exceptionally talented crews, the team are putting their best foot forward to challenge throughout all levels of what looks set to be an exciting new era of world rallying.
Starting at Rallye Monte-Carlo, Camilli and Veillas will contest a full WRC 2 campaign with an opportunity for further outings as the season progresses.
The Frenchman’s story is one of an incredible rise through the rallying ranks which saw him take to the wheel of M-Sport’s Ford Fiesta RS WRC last year.
Despite a season of highs and lows, the Frenchman showed real potential – claiming a maiden stage victory on what was only his sixth outing in a world rally car and 12th ever appearance on gravel.
That potential has prompted M-Sport to keep the Frenchman on as an integral part of the team and he will contest a series of events to the gain the vital experience required to further his development.
Suninen and Markkula will start their 2017 campaign at next month’s Rally Sweden. Having secured the runner-up spot in last year’s WRC 2 championship, the Finn has proven himself worthy and will contest at least five events in the WRC 2 category with exciting opportunities for further outings within the M-Sport team.
Starting his career with the Blue Oval in 2013, Suninen spent two seasons in the Finnish Championship with M-Sport’s range of two-wheel-drive Fiestas before progressing to the world stage where he proved a force to be reckoned with.
Securing two victories and four podiums throughout last year’s WRC 2 championship, the 22-year-old now makes a welcome return to the Fiesta and is determined to better his 2016 performance.
Known for fostering young talent, M-Sport are delighted to welcome Suninen to the team and look forward to working with him as he aspires to reach the highest level of competition.
Éric Camilli said:
“The important thing for me this year is to continue to gain as much experience of as many FIA World Rally Championship events as possible. In rallying, experience is everything and it will be really important for me to continue this progression.
“When you see the drivers who will compete in the WRC 2 category at Rallye Monte-Carlo, it is very impressive. There is a real possibility for us to show our potential against experienced drivers like Andreas Mikkelsen and Bryan Bouffier – who have both been on the podium at this special event. It will be interesting to go head-to-head with them.
“The objective for the season will be to continue our development and to gain the experience and consistency that could see us back at the top-level as soon as possible. We have a great team around us, who have put their faith in us, and I hope that there will be a lot for us all to celebrate this year.”
Teemu Suninen said:
“I’m very grateful for this opportunity and very happy to join the M-Sport team. They’ve offered me an excellent programme for the year ahead and there are some very exciting times to come.
“M-Sport provides one of the best environments for young drivers to learn and gain experience on their way to the top level. I’m really looking forward to working with this passionate team and to seeing for myself how the four-time World Champion, Sébastien Ogier, works.
“My goal for this season is to improve on last year when I finished second in the WRC 2 championship. I know that it will be a big challenge, but with more experience under my belt I feel ready and in a good position.
“M-Sport has a great history in rallying and many Finnish drivers have succeeded in Malcolm's team. I hope, and believe, that I have a good chance of forming a part of this successful story.”
M-Sport Managing Director, Malcolm Wilson OBE, said:
“From as early as 2002, we have actively strived to create exciting opportunities for talented youngsters at all levels of the sport. This year, we will be fielding two cars in the WRC 2 category and I believe that we have two exceptionally strong candidates in both Éric and Teemu.
“Éric and Benjamin might be taking a step back this year, but it by no means undermines our faith in their potential. This year, Éric will be able to gain experience of as many events as possible without the pressures that come from competing at the highest level.
“Experience counts for a lot in this game and, if he can perform as we expect, it shouldn’t be too long before we see him back behind the wheel of a world rally car.
“It’s great to welcome Teemu and Mikko to the team. Teemu gained a lot of attention last year and there were a lot of people watching him in the WRC 2 championship. He’s a young guy with a lot of talent, and it’s great to have him behind the wheel of the Fiesta R5.
“We’ve had great success with Finns in the past, and Teemu could well form another chapter of that story. He’s ambitious, and determined, and I’m looking forward to seeing what he can deliver.”