Six-time World Rally Championship champion signs 1-year deal with Toyota.Fresh off the ending of his six-year run as king of the World Rally Championship, Sebastien Ogier is ready for his next challenge.
Ogier has left manufacturer Citroen and now is heading to Toyota Gazoo Racing and its Toyota Yaris race car. There, he will help form a new lineup for Toyota that will include Elfyn Evans and Kalle Rovanpera. The new lineup was announced on Wednesday. Ogier finished third in the 2019 championship standings.
Evans, who drove for M Sport Ford, finished fifth. Rovanpera finished 12th for Skoda while winning the WRC2 Pro championship in 2019.
Ogier, who turns 36 in December, has said that 2020 will be his final season in the WRC. Ogier’s contract with Toyota is for one year. Evans, 30, and Rovanpera, 19, signed two-year deals, according to Toyota Gazoo Racing.
The trio replaces newly crowned world champion Ott Tänak, who has switched to Hyundai Motorsport, Jari-Matti Latvala and Kris Meeke.
“We know how strong Sebastien is, and we’re all looking forward to working with him and Julien (co-driver Ingrassia),” said Toyota Gazoo Racing team principal Tommi Makinen. “I think that being able to attract a driver with his record says a lot about what we have achieved in such a short space of time with this team.
Ogier says that this deal is really three years in the making. The six-time WRC champion said that he’s been eyeing Toyota since Toyota confirmed its WRC return after a 17-year absence.
“We already discussed it at the end of 2016, and although we didn’t manage to make it happen at that time, I’m now overwhelmed to start working with such an iconic brand as Toyota as well as my childhood idol Tommi Mäkinen,” Ogier said. “All three of us are new to the team, so it’s going to be challenging to learn the car and everything, but of course we’ll do our best to perform as quickly as possible.”