Volkswagen has signalled its intention to challenge for the World Rally Championship title when it joins the field in 2013 after confirming the signing of former Citroen driver Sebastien Ogier as the first part of its WRC line-up.
The Frenchman finished third in the standings this season before the announcement that he was to leave Citroen ahead of the end of his contract, and would be replaced by Mikko Hirvonen.
Speculation had suggested that Ogier would move over to Ford as Hirvonen's replacement but the 27-year-old has instead agreed a deal to spearhead VW's assault on the WRC.
Ogier and co-driver Julien Ingrassia will now help to develop the Polo WRC ahead of its competitive debut in the 2013 season.
“Volkswagen is the number one in Europe and will soon be number one in the world,” Ogier said. “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.”
VW motorsport director Kris Nissen meanwhile was thrilled to sign one of the top drivers in the series to lead his team's challenge.
“We are proud that such a successful and quick duo as Sebastian Ogier and his co-driver Julien Ingrassia have decided to join Volkswagen,” he said. “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.”
Ogier's deal with VW is effective immediately, with his first official role as a Volkswagen driver being his appearance in the end of season Race of Champions event.