Frenchman Sebastien Ogier will lead Volkswagen’s assault on the World Rally Championship when the German marque steps into the sport in 2013.
Volkswagen has confirmed the signing less than two weeks after Ogier’s former employer Citroen announced that the 27-year-old would not be seeing out his contract with the French team.
Ogier had risen rapidly through the rallying ranks under Citroen’s guidance, but is being replaced by former Ford front-man Mikko Hirvonen after following a season of friction while fighting team-mate Sebastien Loeb for the championship.
Ogier’s new long-term Volkswagen contract is effective immediately, meaning he will not contest next year’s World Rally Championship while the Polo R WRC remains in development.
“Volkswagen is the number one in Europe and will soon be number one in the world,” said Ogier in a statement.
“I’m sure that they’re going to compete with the goal of clinching the WRC title. And I’m happy to be part of this from the outset.”
Volkswagen spokesman Ulrich Hackenberg said the signing of the man who won five rallies in 2011 is a show of confidence in the company’s WRC program.
“I am very happy about Sebastian Ogier and (co-driver) Julien Ingrassia joining us,” said Hackenberg.
“Both of them are important pieces of the puzzle on our way towards building a successful team in the World Rally Championship.
“It is also a mark of confidence for our team if such a strong pairing opts for a new team in the WRC that is still in the process of being developed.”
Ogier’s decision has surprised the rally world, with many having expected the former Junior World Rally Champion to move to the Ford team in a direct swap with Hirvonen.
See below for Volkswagen’s video about signing Ogier