World Rallycross race winner Reinis Nitišs has announced he will be transitioning from rallycross to rallying in 2020.
The Latvian will compete in the Estonian and Latvian national championships ahead of a planned assault on the FIA Junior World Rally Championship in 2021, teaming up with co-driver Andris Mālnieks in a front-wheel-drive Ford Fiesta.
“[The] last few months have been very busy. Decision making process, planning, assembling the team, buying the car and training – all that has resulted in the biggest change in my career,” said Nitišs.
“I am sure that for many this will seem a very unexpected move.
“Rallycross is very action-packed sport and, despite the fact that last season showed my potential to be amongst the very best, the financial side of the rallycross cuts my chances of making it to any top team for the full season run.
“This is why I take on this new challenge, where we can drive a full season, set targets and fight for them.”
As well as claiming a single win in World RX – at Hell in 2014 – Nitišs won the 2013 European Super 1600 and the 2018 European Supercar titles.
“I know that I am starting on the back foot comparing to other young rally pilots, who have been in this sport for several years,” added the 24-year-old.
“This is why we chose 2020 as a practice year – learning the specifics of the sport, improving my skills and doing lots of training. That still does not change the fact that we will fight for the titles in the Baltics.”
Two-time DTM champion and 2016 World RX title-winner Mattias Ekström will work with Nitišs in a mentoring and coaching role throughout the season. Ekstrom is also a seasoned rally competitor.
“In the last few years Reinis has proven himself in rallycross. He has speed and talent,” said Ekström.
“I also believe that he has intelligence and understanding of the sport to become a great rally driver.”