Following the departure of Volkswagen from the FIA World Rally Championship at the end of 2016, the destination of four-time World Champion Sebastien Ogier was the biggest conversation point, but the Frenchman will race for M-Sport in 2017.
Ogier and co-driver Julien Ingrassia will link up with Estonian Ott Tänak and his new co-driver Martin Järveoja in a strong looking line-up for Malcolm Wilson’s team, with the aim for M-Sport to be a rally-winning team once more.
Ogier arrives in the team as the reigning World Rally Champion and has taken thirty-eight victories since making his debut back in 2008, and in that time has taken a remarkable 475 stage wins.
“There will be a lot of new things this season, but I am 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!
“I’m looking forward to working with M-Sport, and we’ll certainly be aiming to return them to the top-step of the podium!”
Tänak was named as the 2016 WRC Driver of the year and came close to a maiden World Rally Championship victory in Poland, and will be looking to make that illusive breakthrough this season.
“I had a great season in 2016,” said Tänak. “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, and now I’m really looking forward to starting this new and exciting era.
“I’ve done a lot of testing with the new Ford Fiesta WRC, and it’s a massive step forward. This is the first time that I’ve had a hand in developing a new car completely from scratch and it’s been great to work with the engineers. I have a long history with M-Sport. They know how to build a competitive car and we’ve all worked together to produce something we hope will be quite special.
“It will be really interesting next year, and the whole team are very driven towards achieving the same goals. It’s great to have Seb and Julien in the team too. They have a lot of experience and I think we can all learn a lot from them. We had some great battles together this year, and I’m sure that will continue in 2017. There’s so much potential in this team. You can feel the excitement and we can’t wait to get started!”