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Thu 27 Oct 2022

BREAKING: Ogier makes co-driver switch

Eight-time WRC champion Sébastien Ogier will have a new co-driver for FORUM8 Rally Japan, it has been revealed today (Thursday).

Frenchman Ogier took a step back from full-time competition after his title-winning 2021 season and has since contested a part-time campaign for Toyota Gazoo Racing alongside Benjamin Veillas. 

Veillas joined Ogier at the beginning of the season as a replacement for the retiring Julien Ingrassia, who partnered Ogier from the very beginning of his career. The pair claimed their first victory as a duo at last week’s RallyRACC - Rally de España aboard a GR Yaris Rally1. 

However, Ogier has revealed their partnership will come to an end with Vincent Landais - current co-driver of M-Sport Ford youngster Pierre-Louis Loubet - set to replace Veillas for next month’s FORUM8 Rally Japan (10 - 13 November).

Ogier explained the decision was taken in order to give an opportunity to a young up-and-coming co-driver. 

“Firstly I want to say thank you to Benjamin for his hard work and application during our programme of rallies this year," said Ogier. "It was a special moment to share our first victory together in Spain. 

"Now that the team has secured all three championships and the main targets for the season have been achieved, we would of course like to finish on a high at the home rally for Toyota in Japan. 

"But this final round is also a chance to prepare and evaluate some things for the future and to give an opportunity to Vincent, who is a talented and motivated young co-driver. He has been working with us in our gravel crew and after this nice experience I am excited to compete in our first rally together and to see how it works out.”

Landais, who has been mentored by Ingrassia, said it will be an honour to sit alongside the eight-time world champion. 

“It will be a big honour to join Seb and the team for Rally Japan," he explained. "Seb and Julien have been like role models for every French driver and co-driver, so this is a great opportunity and one that I’m very proud of. 

“Julien has been helping me a lot during my career, and I already had the chance to work with Seb as part of his gravel crew in Monte Carlo this year. Japan will be a big challenge with a lot to learn but I will focus on doing my best as always and try to make the most of this chance. 

“Finally I would like to thank M-Sport, Pierre-Louis Loubet and his sponsors for this season and the good results we could do together.”

Forty-four year-old Veillas previously formed part of Ogier’s Route Note Crew before replacing Ingrassia following his retirement. They started five rallies together, finishing on the podium three times. 

He added: “It has been an incredible experience for me to compete together with Seb this season. To be able to win a WRC rally in Spain was a dream come true for me, and I’m also proud to have been part of such a successful season for Toyota Gazoo Racing. 

“It has not been easy for me to step into this role, one which brings a lot of pressure and long hours during the week of a rally. The decision to give an opportunity to a young and talented co-driver for Rally Japan is therefore one that I completely understand and which I fully support. 

“I would like to thank Seb and the team for their help and support this season and wish them together with Vincent the best of luck in Japan.”