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Rally icon Vatanen thrilled by Ogier joining M-Sport

Ari Vatanen, who is Ford’s last World Rally Champion, says four-time and reigning champion Sebastien Ogier’s move from Volkswagen to M-Sport is good “for the wellbeing of the sport."

Sébastien Ogier and Ari Vatanen
Sébastien Ogier, Volkswagen Motorsport
2017 Ford Fiesta WRC
Sébastien Ogier, Julien Ingrassia, Volkswagen Polo WRC, Volkswagen Motorsport
Sébastien Ogier, Julien Ingrassia, Volkswagen Polo WRC, Volkswagen Motorsport
Ari Vatanen
Ari Vatanen, David Richards, Ford Escort RS1800
2017 Ford Fiesta WRC

Vatanen, who won the 1976 and ’80 British Rally Championships before taking the ’81 WRC title – all in Ford Escort RS1800s – also believes that Ogier can contend for the title next season with Malcolm Wilson’s M-Sport Ford Fiestas.

The Finnish legend told Red Bull’s website: “I don’t rule out [Sebastien] from winning – he told me that the car is very good, but of course no one can know until the first stage time comes in from Monte Carlo!

“But do you realize that I’m the last Ford driver to win the World Championship? Nobody has done that since 1981, so I jokingly said to Malcolm, ‘Well, you should employ me because I’m the only one who knows how to do it!’

“I hope that Seb will take this burden off my shoulders now – I don’t want to remain the last Ford driver to win!”

Vatanen also gave credit to Wilson’s overachievement as a privateer entrant.

“You’ve got to remember that Ford have got very little involvement [in M-Sport] and Malcolm has to find money himself and do very good business in order to run the company. He has taken big gambles, and I love that entrepreneurial aspect to him… “It’s easy to work for somebody else, but it’s totally different when you put your neck on the line and you don’t know what the outcome is going to be – it’s just an educated guess and you hope it will work out well. And it has done for Malcolm, because he’s a true businessman. Now to have Ogier there, imagine what that will do for them.

“I was hoping very much that it would happen, and I’m genuinely, sincerely very happy that it turned out this way.”

He went on: “This is good for the sport; people need to get emotional and when something really good happens, you have to enjoy it and you have to spread the joy. For the wellbeing of our sport, things have to be re-done all the time.”

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