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Premium Member
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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
Four-time world champion Sebastien Ogier has signed to drive for the M-Sport World Rally Team next season.

The Frenchman agreed terms with M-Sport's Malcolm Wilson on Monday, having explored options to stay in the WRC since Volkswagen announced its end-of-2016 withdrawal last month.

Ogier sampled M-Sport's Ford Fiesta RS WRC - a car launched in Cumbria on Friday afternoon - in late-November, completing around 25 miles in Wales, and is expected to start testing in Sweden later this week.

"There will be a lot of new things this season, but I am definitely looking forward to it," Ogier said.

"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 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!"

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Premium Member
1,207 Posts
Discussion Starter · #2 ·
The World Rally Championship can, probably for the first time, genuinely relate to Wolverhampton Wanderers.

The English football side's motto is: out of darkness cometh light (giving rise, so it's said, their black and gold strip). Volkswagen's decision to depart the WRC cast the series into darkness last month.

Promoter-types, of course, talked about a natural and entirely normal commercial cycle of motorsport; manufacturers come and go - Volkswagen departed, Citroen and Toyota returned.

Behind closed doors, it was a disaster of monstrous proportions. Not least because it left four-time World Rally Champion Sebastien Ogier out of work: a champion driver with no drive isn't much use to any promoter.

That was the darkness. Then came the light.

Ogier joining M-Sport is a dream deal for the Cumbrian squad and for the WRC. What a storyline to have running through 2017.

Disastrous as Volkswagen's departure is, there's no doubt the absence of the Polo R WRC in an official capacity will open up the competition and nobody can deny the appetite for seeing Ogier in a new car facing up to Kris Meeke in a Citroen.

Ogier will arrive in Monte Carlo next month firmly on the back foot, with very little knowledge of the Ford and barely any testing in the French Alps. The slick-shod icy mountain roads are just about the worst possible place in the world to find out what a new car's really like in competition.

It's that kind of thing which has thrown the championship wide open.

But landing Ogier still puts M-Sport in its strongest position ever for a third - and possibly fourth - world championship title.

Malcolm Wilson's team has worked tirelessly to put together a stunning new car and the man himself has rewarded that effort with the ultimate driver.

Talking to Wilson after Ogier tested for him last month, the sense of enthusiasm for a deal and a shot to be right back at the top was overwhelming. In all the time I've known Wilson, only once had I seen that kind of deal determination before: when he tried to sign the other French Sebastien - Loeb - in 2005.

Things are different for Wilson these days. Undoubtedly there was excitement when Colin McRae was signed for 1999 or Carlos Sainz a couple of years later, but there was a chunk of Martini cash sloshing around, not to mention the odd million from Ford, back then.

There's none of that now. These deals are all done out of the Wilson wallet.

That said, Henry Ford III was in Cockermouth last week. Wilson laughed off talk of a Blue Oval return. But surely the prospect of Ogier in that Fiesta must be more tempting than ever for Ford.

Now that would be a blinding light coming out of the darkness.


I'm so Excited ...bring on WRC 2017 :cool:

Premium Member
1,207 Posts
Discussion Starter · #3 ·
Sebastien Ogier completes first full M-Sport test ahead of 2017 WRC

The four-time world champion, who was confirmed at the British team earlier this week, has been driving the car close to Are in northern Sweden, on snow.

Having completed around 150 miles of running on Wednesday, he and co-driver Julien Ingrassia were expected to repeat that distance on Thursday.

The pair will now go on holiday and return to the test Fiesta in the second week in January for their Monte Carlo Rally preparations.

Team principal Malcolm Wilson told Autosport: "I spoke to Sebastien after the first day and he was happy.

"I have to say, there wasn't really a lot to report.

"They were running on a fast road and raised a couple of small things which we can easily sort."

Ogier's only running in the car prior to the test in the snow was around 25 miles in Wales last month.

Wilson is confident that, while Ogier's time in the car will be short before the 2017 season opener, it will be enough for him to find his feet.

"We've done a lot of testing on asphalt," said Wilson, "and we're confident in the car's performance.

"If you look at how quickly he's adapted to the car, I really don't see it being a problem for him.

"I have no concerns about that at all."


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