Five-time World Rally champion Sebastien Ogier is returning to Citroen Racing in 2019, the Frenchman has confirmed. The move ends his two-year stint in the privateer Fords entered by M-Sport.
Ogier began his storied WRC career with Citroen, before moving from its works team to that of Volkswagen where he won four straight world championships. The withdrawal of the German marque from world rallying prompted his move to M-Sport last year, where he went on to claim a fifth consecutive crown with the privateer team. Ogier’s bid for a sixth straight title this year is looking more of a challenge, though, as he is currently third in the standings behind Hyundai’s Thierry Neuville and Toyota’s Ott Tanak with three rounds still remaining.
“There were various factors that influenced my decision,” said Ogier, 34. “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.
“When we decided to join M-Sport two years ago, many considered it a risk. I considered it a challenge, and together we achieved something extraordinary,” he added. “Malcolm (Wilson, M-Sport boss) 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.”
Citroen team principal Pierre Budar had been pushing for his team to bring back Ogier in hopes of reviving the French marque’s once dominant form. Citroen won nine consecutive WRC titles with Sebastien Loeb before Ogier’s run of domination began in 2013. Citroen dropped Kris Meeke from its line-up earlier this season and brought back Loeb for the Mexican and French rallies, but its results have continued to be disappointing.
“I’m obviously delighted to welcome Sebastien and Julien (Ingrassia, co-driver) back into the fold,” said Budar. “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!”