“The last few year I was unable to free myself enough from my full business schedule to drive rallies, and when I drive I want to do that the right way or not at all,” said the Dutchman, according to Autosport. “For 2011 I will be fully dedicated to the rally sport since I have been given the unique chance to drive a factory car.”
Van Merksteijn will compete in 10 rounds of the 2011 WRC season, which is the most he had competed over an entire season in his entire career in the series. Since 2008, the Dutch driver has driven WRC-spec Fords in selected events.
In parallel to his scheduled rounds in the WRC, Van Merksteijn will also undergo some 4 tests at the wheel of the DS3 WRC next season, one before the start of the season and the other in between his WRC rounds.
“I like the looks of the car and I think it’s good to go with another team to start from zero because I can learn more that way. I drove some rallies over the years but never a full programme. Now I will be looking to score points, particularly on the events that I know like Sweden and Germany,” he added, according to the WRC website.
The news comes as a blow to either Petter Solberg or Kimi Raikkonen, both of whom have driven Citroen machines in the 2010 WRC. Citroen's Olivier Quesnel recently confirmed that the French manufacturer will only field 4 DS3 WRC cars in the 2011 series, and two of them are already taken by Sebastien Loeb and Sebastien Ogier in the works team.
While Solberg admitted he is contemplating a season off WRC in 2011, Raikkonen is yet to announce his plans for next year.
“I’m not sure who my team-mate will be. I have seen the rumours but I don’t know what is happening,” van Merksteijn Jr commented on the topic.