Malcolm Wilson's Cumbrian-based outfit has pulled off a major coup by signing reigning champion Sebastien Ogier to lead its 2017 WRC attack
Matt Burt
12 December 2016

Sébastien Ogier, the reigning World Rally Champion, has signed for M-Sport to drive one of the Cumbrian team’s Ford Fiesta RS WRCs next season.

The French driver, champion for the past four seasons, was left without a drive following the sudden withdrawal of the factory-backed Volkswagen team last month.

Having tested the brand new Ecoboost-powered Ford Fiesta RS WRC in Wales last month, the Frenchman was sufficiently impressed to agree terms with Malcolm Wilson’s operation. He and co-driver Julien Ingrassia will drive one Fiesta, with Estonian Ott Tänak in the other.

Read our interview with M-Sport boss Malcolm Wilson

“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,” said Ogier.

“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 Wilson 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”

Wilson said: “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 have had in years. To say we’re excited about next season is an understatement. We believe that we have produced an exceptional car, and we are in the best possible position ahead of this exciting new era.

“I’ve made no secret of how much we wanted to work with Sébastien and Julien, and it is fantastic to welcome them to the team. We have worked extremely hard to secure them, and they believe that the Ford Fiesta WRC is the car with which they can best defend their championship."

Co-driving in an M-Sport rally car with Elfyn Evans

With Ogier’s former team-mate Jari-Matti Latvala having signed to spearhead Toyota’s new WRC assault last week, Andreas Mikkelsen is the only former Volkswagen driver without a full-time drive for 2017.

There is still a possibility that the Volkswagen Polo world rally car will be seen on the special stages in 2017 in the hands of an independently run team.

Our Verdict

Ford Fiesta
Fiestas sold in Europe are ostensibly the same as those sold in America and Asia

The seventh-generation Ford Fiesta is the UK's best selling car, helped by frugal engines, handling verve and a big car feel

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Comments
3

12 December 2016
Here's hoping with a bit of luck Ford can be tempted to come in and put some promotional budget into the series. Surely the numbers are tipped nicely in their favour.

12 December 2016
I'll second that.

13 December 2016
Just hope it has 75% of the reliability the VW gave these two. This next season will be truly interesting and I still think someone will have a good job of throwing a VW into the mix. Loeb rally team with Andreas as wheel twirler. Toyota wont be off the podium spots either. Then of course there is a clever lad from the isle of man who knows how to chuck a DS3 around.. GREAT serious season coming up with cars which roll back the years with visual and sound bites from the Group B cars of old.yeaaaaaaaaaaaaaahhhhhhh love it. Hairs on the back of your neck

what's life without imagination

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