M-Sport driver silences retirement rumours to return alongside Evans.
Sébastien Ogier will defend his FIA World Rally Championship title in 2018 after M-Sport confirmed the Frenchman and co-driver Julien Ingrassia will be suiting up for them again. The 33-year-old made it five WRC championships in a row this year after seeing off fierce rivals Thierry Neuville and Ott Tänak with two victories and a further seven podiums. There were rumours that Ogier might call it a day after moving behind compatriot Sébastien Loeb and his amazing nine titles in the all-time WRC champion standings. Nevertheless the Gap native enjoyed himself so much across the 13 dramatic stops this season that both he and Ingrassia feel confident they can challenge again next year.
Ogier revealed: “This season has been very exciting with some of the closest-fought competition for years. As a driver, I definitely want to be a part of that. I still get a lot of emotion from this sport, and this team has so much passion. That made my decision clear, and we will work hard to chase more success together next year.”
Welshman Elfyn Evans has also been rewarded for an impressive season with a seat for 2018 alongside his co-driver Daniel Barritt in the EcoBoost-powered Ford Fiesta WRC.
After finishing 21st overall in 2016, the 28-year-old came alive this season with second places in Argentina and Finland before he fulfilled a lifelong dream courtesy of a famous victory at his home Wales Rally GB to end the season a clear fifth overall.
He enthused: “Honestly, I can’t wait to get back behind the wheel and Rally Monte-Carlo can’t come soon enough. We’ll be working hard over the Christmas break to ensure we’re fully prepared, and the goal will be to build on the success of this year.”
After seeing his team storm to the manufacturers’ title too, team principal Malcolm Wilson OBE added: “To have secured both Sébastien and Elfyn is brilliant news for the team. We’ve been working towards this goal for some time.
“In Sébastien and Elfyn, we have a strong chance of defending our titles.
“It won’t be easy, but they’re both very intelligent drivers. There is no doubting their speed, but they also have a masterful approach to strategy that delivers results time after time.”