FIA WRC champions crowned in Paris
Glittering end to an incredible WRC season
Fløene, who claimed his maiden WRC victory alongside Mikkelsen in Spain in October (above), will replace Jonas Andersson who announced last week he will partner fellow Swede Pontus Tidemand in a WRC 2 title bid.
Østberg, who has switched from Citroën to M-Sport for 2016, was partnered by Emil Axelsson and Ilka Minor during his Rallye Monte-Carlo test last week before the shock announcement that Fløene would join him in the British squad’s Ford Fiesta RS.
“Together with my team, we came up quickly with a list of alternatives who could replace Jonas,” said Østberg. “Fortunately several good options turned up on the list. Two of them joined me on the Monte-Carlo pre-event test that was planned the day after. They did a terrific job, secured me a good test and I’m very grateful for that.
“Another name was Ola Fløene, who fulfilled all the criteria I had. The agreement is long-term. We’re looking forward to getting started with the preparations for 2016 and look forward to be competing for top positions in the year to come.”
Fløene used to co-drive for Østberg’s father, Morten, and joined Mikkelsen when he began his career in Britain as a 17-year-old in 2006. They split at the end of 2012 but joined forces again midway through 2014 but their agreement was due to end after the 2016 season.
Fløene said he was proud of the results with Mikkelsen at Volkswagen Motorsport but believed he had a better chance of long-term success with Østberg.
“I would like to become world champion and I believe it is a better chance with a long-term co-operation with Mads then to achieve it in 2016 with Andreas. Mads is one of the top drivers in WRC.
“My time with Andreas is limited to one year – 2016. I’m not ready to give up my top level career that early. I feel I have the capacity for many years ahead at the highest level," he explained.
Østberg’s M-Sport team-mate, Eric Camilli, will also have a new co-driver. Nicolas Klinger, who used to co-drive for Thierry Neuville and partnered Julien Maurin in WRC 2 in 2015, will replace Benjamin Veillas.
Camilli explained the reasons behind the change to WRC Live’s Becs Williams in our latest Regroup podcast here.