Can Novikov replace JML at Ford?
Arrival of third factory team to the World Rally Championship (OK, fourth if we still consider Mini a factory team) means exciting times on drivers market – main question is who will be selected to accompany Sebastien Ogier in Volkswagen next year, and there are several options.
Recently, british Autosport dropped a mini-bomb by claiming none other than Jari-Matti Latvala will exchange his blue oval overalls to Volkswagen ones next year with long-term contract being discussed by both parties. And if Jari-Crashi indeed ends up moving to Volkswagen, who will claim his spot in Ford’s A team?
Luckily, there are many talented candidates available in privateer teams of both Citroën and Ford. At Ford alone we have Mads Ostberg, superquick Norwegian youngster aiming to reach the top step of the podium this year by proving his worth on the tracks and not by claiming gifted wins. Another possible Ford recruit is even younger Russian, Evgeny Novikov. Novikov is not hiding his ambitions of securing a manufacturer seat, claiming this is the only way he will be able to fight for wins on all rallies. With strong sponsors support and impressive performance on stages, Novikov is seen by many as possible successor to Latvala, if “flying Finn” decides to swap teams. On the other hand, Novikov is still very young and even if Petter Solberg gets promoted to number 1 spot in Ford, it’s still a bit hard to imagine manufacturer team hiring such a young driver. Or is it?
For now, however, Latvala is staying with Ford and we still have a full season ahead of us, but while the machines are silent and stewards are not in session we can enjoy debating about the possible changes to the current roster, can we?