Peugeot Sport has announced a new-look driver lineup for next year’s WRC season. Marcus Gronholm stays, Richard Burns is gone, Harri Rovanpera gets promoted and Freddy Loix joins.

Peugeot Sport has announced a new-look driver lineup for next year’s WRC season. Marcus Gronholm stays, Richard Burns is gone, Harri Rovanpera gets promoted and Freddy Loix joins.


CARtoday.com reported last week that current WRC drivers’ standings leader Burns had decided to return to Subaru for the 2004 season. In addition, Peugeot’s asphalt specialist, Frenchman Gilles Panizzi signed on for Mitsubishi’s comeback season next year.


But these developments have brought Hyundai’s Freddy Loix and Peugeot’s third driver Harri Rovanpera into the frame for the world championship-winning French team.


Loix will be Peugeot's third driver in 2004, but an official statement said he and co-driver Sven Smeets "may occasionally be replaced by specialist drivers on two or three events".


And for the first time in his Peugeot career Rovanpera will contest a full season with the French team. The tall Finn and compatriot Gronholm are expected to be Peugeot’s main title contenders next year.


The team is expected to spearhead its championship attack next year with an all-new 307 World Rally Car, but current Junior World Rally Championship star Daniel Carlsson will be given at least eight WRC gravel events in a 2003-spec 206, entered either directly by Peugeot Sport or customer team Bozian Racing. Peugeot also plans to give other young drivers an opportunity to show their ability on the four asphalt rounds.


Loix, meanwhile, is seen as a beneficiary of the WRC’s new third driver rule, which states a team's third driver cannot have won a podium place in the past three years.


Despite not having a guarantee of a full programme, his move to Peugeot could rekindle his career. After, showing promise in a Toyota in 1998, he struggled at Mitsubishi for three seasons, when Tommi Makinen was at his brilliant best.


With Rovanpera and Loix confirmed at Peugeot, the spotlight falls on Citroën and who it will sign as its second driver. Sebastien Loeb and Simon Jean-Joseph both have deals with the team for next year, leaving Colin McRae and Carlos Sainz scrapping it out for the remaining drive.

Original article from Car