Junior World Rally Championship points' leader Sebastien Ogier will replace Simon Jean-Joseph on the Ulster International Rally next weekend, Citroen Sport announced today.
Ogier will take in the event, which counts as a round of the British Rally Championship and the Irish Tarmac Rally Championship, as Jean-Joseph recently sustained facial injuries in a boating accident.
"Jean-Joseph underwent an operation locally followed by a second operation in France," read a statement from Citroen. "He is now recovering but will not be able to drive a rally car for a few weeks, which means that he is unable to start the Ulster Rally, the sixth round of his planned European programme in the Citroen C2-R2 MAX."
Under the rules just one element of a competing crew can be changed once the entry has gone in and as such Ogier has been called up to drive the C2-R2 MAX alongside Jean-Joseph's navigator Jack Boyere.
"First of all, I feel extremely sorry for Simon and I hope he gets better soon," said Ogier, who is currently on course to take the JWRC win on the Rallye Deutschland. "I've never driven on the Ulster Rally and I don't know a great deal about it. But that really doesn't matter.
"I'm delighted to have this unexpected opportunity. All I've heard is that this is quite specialised terrain, with fast and bumpy roads.
"As well as having to learn this tricky event though, Jack and I will also have to learn how to work together. But Jack is an amazing professional, who has worked with many different drivers, so I'm sure it will be absolutely fine.
"I don't feel any particular pressure heading for Ulster, and I'm happy to take on the objective that Simon and the team fixed for themselves before the start of this year - to demonstrate the qualities of the C2-R2 MAX.
"I know that it is fantastic in 'normal' conditions and also very good when the going gets rough. As there is a strong chance of rain, I'm hoping that this could allow us to play our trump card. The PH Sport team also knows Ireland well, and their experience will be crucial."
Jack Boyere meanwhile, who already has two participations in Ulster behind him, has warned that the event can be very tough.