It’s the news we’ve all been waiting for, and M-Sport are proud to confirm that Sebastien Ogier and Ott Tänak will lead the team into an exciting new era – each piloting the all-new Ecoboost-powered Ford Fiesta WRC in the 2017 FIA World Rally Championship.
Fielding both the reigning FIA World Rally Champion and the WRC Driver of the Year, M-Sport are in prime position and determined to make a return to the top-step of the podium.
Having tested the new Fiesta in Wales last month, Ogier was sufficiently impressed by the team’s latest creation and agreed terms with the Cumbrian outfit to spearhead his championship defence.
Ogier and co-driver Julien Ingrassia have long been on Malcolm Wilson’s wish list, and rightly so. The French pairing are a force to be reckoned with – talent, flair and speed on any surface that the FIA World Rally Championship has to offer.
Since starting their WRC campaign in 2008, the Frenchmen have secured four world championships, 38 victories, 56 podiums and an impressive 475 stage wins – making them a sought-after asset to any team.
M-Sport now have the opportunity to add to those impressive statistics, and are more determined than ever ahead of what looks set to be the most exciting season in decades.
Lining up alongside Ogier and Ingrassia is Tänak and new co-driver Martin Järveoja. Showing incredible speed whilst capturing the hearts of rally fans around the world, the Estonian was crowned this year’s WRC Driver of the Year and is keen to take another step forward.
Driven and ambitious, 2016 provided something of a breakthrough for Tänak who secured two second-place finishes and 30 stage wins on gravel – a statistic which could only be bettered by his new team mate, Ogier.
Having come painstakingly close to securing his maiden FIA World Rally Championship win in Poland earlier this year, the Estonian is hungry for more and determined to secure an elusive first victory behind the wheel of the car he has had a considerable hand in developing.
With the start of Rallye Monte-Carlo just 39 days away, the team cannot wait to start this exciting new chapter; and news of other crews in M-Sport’s driving team will be revealed in due course.
Sébastien Ogier said:
“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.
“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 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!”
Ott Tänak said:
“I had a great season in 2016. We got a lot of experience under our belts and I think I became a much stronger driver. It was good to see the speed increase over the course of the year, and now I’m really looking forward to starting this new and exciting era.
“I’ve done a lot of testing with the new Ford Fiesta WRC, and it’s a massive step forward. This is the first time that I’ve had a hand in developing a new car completely from scratch and it’s been great to work with the engineers. I have a long history with M-Sport. They know how to build a competitive car and we’ve all worked together to produce something we hope will be quite special.
“The power is insane, and almost every aspect of the car has been completely redesigned. At first, I thought the increased power would make it a bit of a handful, but the guys have done such a good job. Every component works together to give incredible control – it really is the full package.
“It will be really interesting next year, and the whole team are very driven towards achieving the same goals. It’s great to have Seb and Julien in the team too. They have a lot of experience and I think we can all learn a lot from them. We had some great battles together this year, and I’m sure that will continue in 2017. There’s so much potential in this team. You can feel the excitement and we can’t wait to get started!”
M-Sport Managing Director, Malcolm Wilson OBE, 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 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.
“With Ott and Martin lining up alongside them, we are in for one hell of a season. Ott has had a very impressive year with consistent speed. He’s played a major role in the development of the new car, and I’m sure that the elusive first victory isn’t too far away!”