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WRC champion signs up to head M-Sport’s 2017 championship quest alongside Ott Tanak

By raccars Published

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Four-times and reigning World Rally Champion Sebastien Ogier has undergone his first complete test in the new M-Sport Ford Fiesta WRC after signing with the team ahead of next year’s season.

Ogier, along with co-driver Julien Ingrassia, have already driven the Ford Fiesta hundreds of miles on snow during testing near the northern Swedish ski resort of Are and appear to be excited about what lies ahead for the M-Sport team. The duo should now be enjoying a holiday before they return for further testing of the Ford Fiesta towards the middle of January as part of the preparations for the Monte Carlo Rally.

Great response to Ogier signing

Malcolm Wilson, the M-Sport team principal, said that he had been delighted by the positive response to the news that M-Sport had signed the defending WRC champion. He said it was ‘a fantastic feeling’ which was being enjoyed by all members of staff at M-Sport.

Wilson said that the signing had had a positive effect throughout the whole team and that his experience with the rally champions had been excellent so far. He added that it was little wonder that they were four-times champions and said that they were focused on taking their fifth straight title.

Ogier opts for the Ford Fiesta

Frenchman Ogier opted to join the M-Sport World Rally Team after exploring his options following the announcement that Volkswagen would withdraw from the competition at the end of this year’s season.

He sampled the team’s Ford Fiesta RS WRC and said he was ‘looking forward’ to the new season. He said he was excited by a whole new generation of rally cars and being part of a new team. He added that whilst the M-Sport crew were aware of the challenges ahead, everyone was feeling very positive about the future.

The 32-year-old driver had previously tested the upcoming Toyota Yaris WRC but Wilson was determined to sign Ogier straight after the Volkswagen announcement. He is now confident that the new season partnership will help the Cockermouth team to take pole position on the podium.

M-Sport is a double manufacturers’ champion but these titles were won during the factory Ford era and it has not won a single round in the championship since 2012. Wilson is hoping that this record will start to change when next year’s WRC season begins on January 20-22 in Monte Carlo.

Wilson said that the team will arrive at the Rallye Monte Carlo boasting a number one behind the wheel of the Fiesta and the best line-up they have enjoyed ‘in years’. He added that it was ‘an understatement’ to say that M-Sport was excited by the prospect of next year’s racing.

Wilson said that the team has created ‘an exceptional’ racing machine, putting them in the most positive of positions for the new season and added that he had made no secret of the fact that he really wanted to work with Ogier and Ingrassia.

High-profile line-up

Ogier is partnering with Ott Tanak in next year’s M-Sport’s line-up. Tanak has just won the WRC Driver of the Year title and makes a return to the M-Sport team after spending a year in the driving seat for DMAK. He has worked closely with the M-Sport crew to develop its new Ford Fiesta.

M-Sport only recently revealed its first official photographs of the 2017 Ford Fiesta WRC. With its aggressive design and huge wing, the car certainly gives the impression that it will mean business when it gets up to speed in next year’s championship.

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