Sébastien Ogier has been signed up as the first official Volkswagen factory driver for the car maker’s assault on the FIA World Rally Championship (WRC) with the new Polo R WRC.
The 27-year-old Frenchman and his co-driver Julien Ingrassia (31) are joining the Volkswagen Motorsport squad effective immediately and will spend the next 12 months shaping development of the Polo R WRC for Volkswagen’s 2013 entry in the World Rally Championship.
Ogier, who finished the 2011 WRC in third place for Citroen, was Junior WRC Champion in 2008 and hotly tipped to usurp his more illustrious team mate, Sebastien Loeb.
‘Volkswagen is the number one in Europe and will soon be number one in the world,’ said an exuberant Sébastien Ogier on his arrival in Hanover. ‘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.’
And co-driver Julien Ingrassia stresses with self-confidence: ‘We’re looking forward to a team with a fighting spirit and the determination to win. Anything’s possible!’
‘I am very happy about Sébastian Ogier and Julien Ingrassia joining us,’ says Dr Ulrich Hackenberg, Member of the Volkswagen Brand Board of Management for the Development Division. ‘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.’
Motorsport Director Kris Nissen adds: “We are proud that such a successful and quick duo as Sébastian Ogier and his co-driver Julien Ingrassia have decided to join Volkswagen. The aim of putting a competitive Polo R WRC on the road for them as quickly as possible will additionally drive our team. We look forward to working with them and are hoping for many victories and titles in the future.’
Two-time world rally champion Carlos Sainz was instrumental in the contractual negotiations with Ogier and Ingrassia. Sainz who has thus far led development of the Polo R WRC, will stay on as expert adviser to the Volkswagen team. “For me, Sébastien is one of the world’s three best drivers,” praises the two-time World Rally Champion (1990, 1992) and 2010 Dakar winner.