FRENCHMAN Bryan Bouffier will drive a third M-Sport Ford Fiesta in this year’s Rallye Monte-Carlo and Tour de Corse to boost the team’s championship defence.
He will join reigning champion Sébastien Ogier and Elfyn Evans in M-Sport’s works Fiesta WRC car when Rallye Monte-Carlo opens the 2018 season on 25-28 January.
Bouffier has won Monte-Carlo and Corsica and is considered a specialist in mastering the conditions that both events typically present.
He won on Monte Carlo’s icy stages when the rally was part of the Intercontinental Rally Challenge in 2011 and on Corsica’s asphalt roads two years later.
With manufacturer entrants able to nominate three drivers on WRC events this season and with the top-two finishers scoring points, M-Sport principal Malcolm Wilson believes Bouffier could prove to be an invaluable addition to the team’s defence of its 2017 manufacturers’ championship.
“It’s great to have Bryan on board for Rallye Monte-Carlo and the Tour de Corse. When it comes to these events, his experience is unrivalled,” Wilson said.
“These are two of the most specialised rallies on the calendar and the conditions and tyre selections can so often determine who succeeds.
“With Bryan’s knowledge, we will have another string to our bow as we look to defend our championship titles.”
The former Hyundai WRC test and development driver, 39, says he’s relishing the chance to drive a factory-spec Ford Fiesta at Monte-Carlo, where he’s enjoyed considerable success during eight previous attempts.
“I honestly didn’t think I would get an opportunity to drive this car, not even on test, so I am very excited,” he said.
“It’s always a great pleasure to work with Malcolm and the M-Sport team and their amazing success in 2017 makes me very proud to work with them again.
“Monte and Corsica are two very different events, but they are also two of my favourites. They’re the two ‘French’ rounds of the season and it is always a pleasure to drive on home soil – even more so with this new car.
“My plan is to be relaxed and to have fun. I would also love to score some manufacturer points for the team – that would just be the icing on the cake.”