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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.

click: crash.net/world+rally/news/175097

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Sainz called for Ogier signing

Double world champion Carlos Sainz was instrumental in Volkswagen signing Sebastien Ogier to head its WRC bid from 2013, it has emerged.

Sainz, who won the Dakar Rally for Volkswagen in 2010, works as an expert adviser for the company, while his son, Carlitos, relies on Volkswagen power for his Formula Three campaign.

“For me, Sebastien is one of the world’s three best drivers,” said Sainz, who won the World Rally Championship in 1990 and 1992 driving for Toyota.

Sainz and Volkswagen Motorsport boss Kris Nissen have always highlighted the need to sign a proven winner for their nascent team and with seven victories at world level under his belt - including five this season - Ogier certainly matches that criteria.

However, he wasn’t the only driver under consideration, largely because he was thought to be off limits due to his long-term deal with Citroen, which was terminated last week.

Having failed in its bid to lure Sebastien Loeb away from Citroen in the summer, Finns Mikko Hirvonen and Jari-Matti Latvala, plus Citroen privateer Petter Solberg were all linked to Volkswagen, which has also assessed several young talents including Kevin Abbring, Andreas Mikkelsen, Christian Riedemann and Hans Weijs by giving them runs in its fleet of Skoda Fabia Super 2000s.


click: wrc.com/sainz-called-for-ogier-signing

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Ogier to run full 2012 programme

Sebastien Ogier has revealed that he will contest a full World Rally Championship programme in 2012, despite the fact that Volkswagen isn't planning to enter the series until 2013.

Ogier signed a deal to become VW's first confirmed driver earlier this week after leaving Citroen, with the Frenchman set to play a vital role in the development of the Polo WRC ahead of its competition debut.

Alongside that development work, Ogier has now confirmed he will take part in the full WRC schedule at the wheel of a Super 2000-spec Skoda Fabia, with the possibility that he may also compete in the Polo before the end of 2012.

“There's a great deal of work to be done,” he told Best-Of-RallyLive. “I think they have planned something like 20 weeks of testing. I will also take part in the entire WRC in a Skoda Fabia S2000.

“It's all about working for the future. It's a case of taking one step back to make two steps forward. Taking part in the 2012 WRC will enable me to stay match fit and familiarise myself with those events that I don't know so well. The test work will help me follow the Polo's development from A to Z. That's a very exciting challenge. I'm not ruling out the possibility of competing in the Polo towards the end of the year if the team believes we are sufficiently ready.”

Ogier's deal to join Volkswagen came despite many people expecting him to move to Ford in what would effectively have been a job swap with Mikko Hirvonen, but the man who finished third in the standings this season insisted that VW had quickly emerged as the best option.

“We looked at both opportunities,” he said. “However, Ford's future in the sport wasn't as certain as that of VW. When I added together all the plusses and minuses, Volkswagen emerged as the best choice. Carlos Sainz also put pressure on me and his arguments finally won me over.”

click:crash.net/world+rally/news/175134


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