LONDON (Reuters) – Four-times world rally champion Sebastien Ogier will race for the M-Sport Ford team next season following Volkswagen’s withdrawal.
The Frenchman and co-driver Julien Ingrassia have won the last four titles in a row, with 38 rally wins.
“There will be a lot of new things this season but I am definitely looking forward to it. We have a new generation of world rally cars and a new team. It’s certainly an exciting time,” Ogier said in a statement.
M-Sport managing director Malcolm Wilson said the team, who also have 2016 World Rally Championship driver of the year Ott Tanak of Estonia, would go to next month’s Monte Carlo season- opener with their strongest line-up in years.
“I’ve made no secret of how much we wanted to work with Sebastien and Julien and it is fantastic to welcome them to the team,” Wilson said.
“We have worked extremely hard to secure them and they believe the Ford Fiesta WRC is the car with which they can best defend their championship.”
Volkswagen announced their exit last month as part of a strategic shift to help the carmaker overcome its emissions scandal.
Europe’s biggest automaker is battling to recover from a scandal involving illegal software installed to mask toxic emissions on about 11 million diesel vehicles worldwide.
(Reporting by Alan Baldwin, editing by Tony Jimenez)