World champion Sébastien Ogier will drive M-Sport’s all-new Ford Fiesta WRC in next season’s FIA World Rally Championship.
He ended six weeks of speculation by signing for the British team after his Volkswagen squad’s unexpected announcement that it was leaving the WRC.
Ogier and co-driver Julien Ingrassia will be partnered by Ott Tänak, who rejoins M-Sport for a third stint. Martin Järveoja will replace Raigo Mõlder as the Estonian’s co-driver.
The four-time champion tested the Fiesta in Wales last month, two days after trying Toyota’s Yaris World Rally Car in Spain. However, an agreement with M-Sport boss Malcolm Wilson was not finalised until today (Monday).
“There will be a lot of new things this season, but I’m definitely looking forward to it,” said Ogier. “We have a new generation of World Rally Cars and a new team – it’s certainly an exciting time.
“There’s not long before we line-up at the start of Rallye Monte-Carlo and we’ve not had a lot of seat time with the Ford Fiesta WRC, but we’ll give it our best to be ready. We’re aware of the challenges, and I can see how hungry Malcolm and his team are for success.
“It’s funny to think that just a few months ago I was sitting at a motorsport forum at Wales Rally GB saying how nice it would be to work with him one day. I had no idea at the time that it would come quite so soon, but here we are.”
Wilson has made no secret of his desire to sign Ogier.
“We go to Rallye Monte-Carlo with the number one on the door of the Ford Fiesta WRC and the strongest driver line-up we’ve had in years,” he said.
“To say we’re excited about next season is an understatement. We believe we have produced an exceptional car, and we’re in the best possible position ahead of this exciting new era.
“We have worked extremely hard to secure Sébastien and Julien and they believe the Ford Fiesta WRC is the car with which they can best defend their championship.”
Tänak has played a major role in developing the new Fiesta and believes he is a better driver than the one that was dropped by M-Sport for a second time at the end of 2015.
“I had a great season in 2016,” he said. “We got a lot of experience under our belts and I think I became a much stronger driver. It was good to see the speed increase over the course of the year. This is the first time I’ve had a hand in developing a new car completely from scratch and it’s been great to work with the engineers.”
M-Sport’s statement made no reference to Eric Camilli. He has a 2017 contract and news on his future is expected shortly.