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M-Sport has confirmed that Sebastien Ogier and Ott Tanak will be their team’s lead drivers in the 2017 FIA World Rally Championship.

This ends weeks of indecision by Ogier about his future after the sudden withdrawal of the official Volkswagen team.  

The brief announcement did not state the length of the agreement with the four times world champions, though Ogier stated he was only looking for a one year agreement.  

Nor does the communique state who will be the third driver in the WRC team in 2017.  

Also notably absent from the announcement was the future for the M-Sport team leader Mads Ostberg, who in 2016 amassed the most championship points for a Fiesta WRC driver, or the long time M-Sport protégé driver Elfyn Evans.  

“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.

Fiesta rear action“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, M-Sport Managing Director, added: “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 Sebastien 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."

There has so far been no mention about an involvement of Red Bull with the Ogier agreement with M-Sport, or the opportunity to fund a private team running the 2017 Polo World Rally Cars.

Under current FIA rules, the new Polo cannot be homologated unless the cars are run in a registered WRC team.
- Martin Holmes    

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