Colin McRae will not replace old team-mate Richard Burns for Subaru in next year's World Rally Championship. They have included the young Finn, Mikko Hirvonen, instead.

Colin McRae will not replace old teammate Richard Burns for Subaru in next year's World Rally Championship. They have included the young Finn, Mikko Hirvonen instead.

The decision not to include McRae was made between Subaru World Rally Team and Subaru Japan officials in Monte Carlo last week. McRae recently tested the team's Impreza WRC2003 in Wales and believed the deal for his return was ready to be signed.

Burns will instead be replaced by Mikko Hirvonen, who will partner Petter Solberg in the Prodrive team's Impreza. The deal is Hirvonen's second full-time works seat in the WRC after he drove a third car for the Ford factory this season.

"This is such a fantastic opportunity for me," said Hirvonen. "There's so much that I want to achieve as a driver in the WRC and I know that Subaru is the team to help me do that. I can't wait to get in the car and get going."

McRae won his only world title with Subaru in 1995 and was not retained by Citroën at the end of this season. His attention will now be focused on the upcoming Dakar race where he will be driving a Nissan.

WRC commercial boss David Richards voiced his disappointed by saying: "It was Colin that helped put Subaru on the map. I don't think some people understand the impact of not having him in the car."