Bruno Thiry will partner Armin Schwarz in the works Skoda team next season, the Czech outfit revealed yesterday.

Thiry, who finished as runner-up in this year's European Rally Championship, will replace the lacklustre Luis Climent in the team after the Spaniard failed to live up to his domestic reputation after transferring to the world scene for 2000.

Thiry already has experience of the Octavia model currently in use on the WRC trail, having piloted it into fourth place on last season's Rally of Great Britain, but was left to drive a Citroen Xsara on the European scene for 2000 while Climent partnered Schwarz in the works operation.

Now the team has decided to re-hire the experienced Belgian, who once drove for the factory Ford team, and expects to give him a twelve-round commitment in next year's world championship. Schwarz remains on board for a third year, having recently won the Semperit Rally, ahead of expected front-running Peugeot and Ford WRC machinery.