Sébastien Ogier will continue his World Rally Championship career with M-Sport World Rally Team next season, weeks after wrapping up a fifth consecutive world drivers’ title at the wheel of the British team’s Ford Fiesta WRC.
Ogier will be joined in the main M-Sport line-up by Wales Rally GB winner Elfyn Evans, who moves across from the third DMACK M-Sport which he competed in during the 2017 season.
Having initially been courted heavily by former employers Citroën towards the end of this season, Ogier narrowed his options down to continuing with M-Sport or retiring from rallying altogether, but was convinced to remain after a strong showing by his new employers this season.
“It’s great to finally announce our plans for 2018,” said Ogier. “What we have achieved together has been truly amazing, and we want to see that continue – to continue this fantastic journey and to defend all that we have achieved together.
“This season has been very exciting with some of the closest-fought competition for years. As a driver, I definitely want to be a part of that. I still get a lot of emotion from this sport, and this team has so much passion. That made my decision clear, and we will work hard to chase more success together next year.”
Evans’ retention by the team came as less of a surprise, with a deal expected to be reached since the Welshman scored his maiden WRC victory on home soil last month.
“After a fantastic season for the whole team, it’s great that we’ll be a part of it again next year. After getting that first victory under our belts, we’re ready to take the next step and I think we all have another exciting season ahead of us.
“Honestly, I can’t wait to get back behind the wheel and Rallye Monte-Carlo can’t come soon enough. We’ll be working hard over the Christmas break to ensure we’re fully prepared, and the goal will be to build on the success of this year.”
With long-time M-Sport driver Ott Tänak leaving for rivals Toyota, there were fears the reigning champions would be left without an experienced lead driver. After months of lengthy negotiations, team principal Malcolm Wilson was happy to put the signing saga behind him and focus on next season.
“To have secured both Sébastien and Elfyn is brilliant news for the team,” said Wilson. “We’ve been working towards this goal for some time, so to finally have it confirmed is fantastic and means that we can now focus our attention on the continued development ahead of next season.
“In Sébastien and Elfyn, we have a strong chance of defending our titles. It won’t be easy. Our rivals certainly won’t have sat still and I’m expecting an even closer battle for the championship, but with these two crews we have a good chance.
“They’re both very intelligent drivers. There is no doubting their speed, but they also have a masterful approach to strategy that delivers results time after time.
“There’s no reason why we shouldn’t be confident of adding to our success next year and – seeing the reaction of the team this afternoon – I know that everyone will continue to give 110 percent.”