Citroen Racing confirmed the signing of Sebastien Ogier and Julien Ingrassia for the 2019 FIA World Rally Championship.
The announcement sees the return of the five-time WRC champion to Citroen after starting his career with the French manufacturer in 2009. This also ends his two-year spell with British team M-Sport Ford Fiesta.
“I’m really enthusiastic about the prospect of taking on this new challenge with Citroen,” said Ogier. “In fact, I can’t wait, especially as I haven’t forgotten that this is the team that first gave me the opportunity to compete in the world championship.
“There were various factors that influenced my decision. I really like the idea of working again with people with whom things went pretty well a few years back and I’m also excited by the chance to try and pull off the challenge of becoming world champion with a third different manufacturer.
“And although I’m not taking anything for granted, I am convinced that the car has definite potential and I have great faith in the people at Satory.” As Ogier alluded, the idea is for the Frenchman to win with a third manufacturer after Volkswagen and Ford.
He won his first four WRC titles between 2013 and 2016 with Volkswagen Motorsport and followed it up with a fifth title with M-Sport Ford in 2017. However, he finds himself in a stiff fight against Thierry Neuville and Ott Tanak for the 2018 championship.
Citroen’s team principal Pierre Budar said: “This excellent news is first and foremost about people embarking on a journey, a human adventure, united by the desire to write a new chapter together in our history.
“I’m obviously delighted to welcome Sebastien and Julien back into the fold! The fact they are joining us is an incredible boost for the whole team. Everyone is going to be even more motivated than ever.
“We’re already pulling out all the stops to make sure our second stint working together adds to our great history in the sport and showcases the Citroen brand. We feel good.” Ogier’s last win with Citroen came in his home event in France in 2011.
With the big signing of Ogier, it remains to be seen who partners with him in Citroen as the current drivers Mads Ostberg and Craig Breen will be looking to impress in the remainder of 2018 to get to drive the 2019 C3 WRC car.
While looking ahead to the future, Ogier thanked M-Sport for their efforts in helping him win the fifth title out of nowhere in 2017. “When we decided to join M-Sport two years ago, many considered it a risk,” he said.
“I considered it a challenge, and together we achieved something extraordinary. Malcolm and his team have such a passion for rallying, and I would like to thank each and every one of them for what has been an incredible two years together.
“It’s now time for another new challenge, but first we will focus on bringing this special partnership to a close in the best possible way. The championship is still extremely close and we’ll keep fighting to keep our chances alive and keep pushing until the very end.”