MOSCOW, October 8 (RIA Novosti)
Russian rally driver Evgeny Novikov expects to sort out his World Rally Championship future by the end of November and has not ruled out a works drive for next season, he told R-Sport on Monday.
Novikov became the youngest stage winner in WRC history in Greece in 2009 and took his first podium with second in Portugal in April.
The Russian appeared to suggest he would leave M-Sport Ford for next season.
“Now we’re in the negotiation process. We’ll see who we move to,” he said.
“Of course there’s always the chance that I’ll end up at a works team, but so far I don’t know anything definite. I think everything will be clear by the end of November.”
Novikov told R-Sport in April that he was in talks over a works drive and hoped to challenge for podium places on a regular basis if he found a seat with a manufacturer-backed outfit.
At the last rally in France, Novikov was seventh on the tarmac of Alsace as Sebastien Loeb wrapped up his record ninth world title with a rally win.
Loeb’s achievement is remarkable but the Frenchman is not worthy of some of the accolades bestowed on him, Novikov suggested.
“Loeb’s won the title again, big respect to him for that,” he said.
“But I’m far from saying that it’s majestic. It doesn’t seem to me that he’s done anything supernatural. You don’t get miracles in life.”
Loeb’s ability is not the only factor in the title, Novikov said, choosing to focus on the well-run nature of the Citroen works team.
“He’s great, he’s a very fast driver. But it’s the result of enormous work done by the whole team, the driver and the co-driver and lots and lots of others. They did it all together so it wasn’t just Sebastien Loeb who won the title.”
When asked about the failure of Loeb’s teammate and four-time WRC runner-up Mikko Hirvonen to match the Frenchman’s pace, Novikov was evasive.
“You’d need to ask him. I’m worried about making comments like that,” he said.
Loeb will only contest a partial program of rallies next season, accompanied by Citroen interest in having him on a proposed works team in the World Touring Car Championship.
Regarding his own performance in France, the lack of a team scout made the difference and stopped Novikov being able to challenge for higher positions, he said.
“Taking the circumstances into account, I think seventh is a good result,” he said.
Novikov debuted on the WRC in Britain in 2007, but this season is the first time he has entered a full calendar of rallies.
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