CITROËN WANTS OGIER AS IT CONFIRMS WRC FUTURE

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CITROËN WANTS OGIER AS IT CONFIRMS WRC FUTURE

FRENCH Citroën will remain in the FIA World Rally Championship for the next two seasons and says it would welcome the return of countryman Sébastien Ogier to help it win more titles.

PHOTO: Citroën Racing boss Pierre Budar wants Sébastien Ogier back in his home team (Citroën pic)

Speaking before this weekend’s Rally Italia Sardegna, Citroën Racing boss Pierre Budar ended speculation manufacturer’s WRC future by confirming “100 per cent” its participation in 2019-20.

“Citroën WRC next year is confirmed,” he said. Asked about the following season, Budar replied: “Normally it is confirmed, 100 per cent confirmed,” he said.

Speculation about Citroën’s future swirling around the service park at recent rounds was heightened by the dismissal of Kris Meeke following his massive accident at last month’s Vodafone Rally de Portugal.

Budar said it was hard to axe Meeke. He ruled out nine-time champion Sébastien Loeb as a permanent replacement, but said the team would welcome Ogier, who left after the 2011 season to help launch Volkswagen’s WRC program.

“I really enjoyed my relationship with Kris and Paul (co-driver Nagle). They are very nice guys and I had a very nice time with them so it’s quite difficult, but we have to know how to separate your personal feelings and your professional duties,” Budar said.

A decision on who would replace the Briton for the second half of the season would be made within the next couple of weeks, ahead of the entry deadline for Neste Rally Finland on 26-29 July.

“You should talk with Loeb but I think his time in a complete championship is over. We cannot go for a complete championship with Seb. It’s not OK for us to go for a few rallies only with him to replace one driver.

“Everybody in the service park wants Seb Ogier and we would be very pleased to see him again at Citroën, of course. He started with us his career in rallying.

“He’s French, in a French team and it would be a nice story also, but it’s not our only consideration to take him.”

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Chris Nixon

Chris Nixon is Media Manager for Kennards Hire Rally Australia.