Four-time World Rally Champion Sebastien Ogier has opted to join M-Sport Ford for 2017 and will team-mate Ott Tanak who returns to the British team after one season away with DMACK Ford.
The reigning WRC champion had found himself without a drive for next season after Volkswagen withdrew its motorsport division due to company cutbacks.
With four world championships, 38 victories, 56 podiums and an impressive 475 stage wins Ogier became the most sought-after driver in WRC and was given permission to test with multiple teams before making his decision for next year.
M-Sport has won the race to Ogier's signature for 2017 and the French driver is relishing a fresh opportunity coupled with the WRC regulation revamp arriving next season.
“There will be a lot of new things this season, but I am definitely looking forward to it,” Ogier said. “We have a new generation of world rally cars, and a new team – it's certainly an exciting time.
“It's funny to think that just a few months ago I was sitting at a motorsport forum at Wales Rally GB saying how nice it would be to work with him one day. I had no idea at the time that it would come quite so soon, but here we are!”
Ogier has already conceded a lack of car time with the all-new Ford Fiesta RS WRC in preparation for next season has put him on the backfoot but sees the challenge as a positive one as he hunts a fifth consecutive world title.
“There's not long before we line-up at the start of Rallye Monte-Carlo and we've not had a lot of seat time with the Ford Fiesta WRC, but we'll give it our best to be ready,” he said. “We're aware of the challenges, and I can see how hungry Malcolm and his team are for success.
“I'm looking forward to working with M-Sport, and we'll certainly be aiming to return them to the top-step of the podium.”
After losing his place at M-Sport last season, Tanak's impressive 2016 campaign has led him back to the factory Ford team in 2017 – having produced career best results of two runner-up finishes at Rally Poland and Wales Rally GB respectively.
While the Estonian driver switches teams again next year he is already very familiar with the set-up at M-Sport, having first raced for the team in the WRC in 2011, while he also had a hand in testing duties for the new Ford Fiesta RS WRC machine.
“I had a great season in 2016. We got a lot of experience under our belts and I think I became a much stronger driver,” Tanak said. “It was good to see the speed increase over the course of the year, and now I'm really looking forward to starting this new and exciting era.
“I've done a lot of testing with the new Ford Fiesta WRC, and it's a massive step forward. This is the first time that I've had a hand in developing a new car completely from scratch and it's been great to work with the engineers. I have a long history with M-Sport. They know how to build a competitive car and we've all worked together to produce something we hope will be quite special.
“The power is insane, and almost every aspect of the car has been completely redesigned. At first, I thought the increased power would make it a bit of a handful, but the guys have done such a good job. Every component works together to give incredible control – it really is the full package.
“It will be really interesting next year, and the whole team are very driven towards achieving the same goals. It's great to have Seb and Julien in the team too. They have a lot of experience and I think we can all learn a lot from them. We had some great battles together this year, and I'm sure that will continue in 2017. There's so much potential in this team. You can feel the excitement and we can't wait to get started.”