Hirvonen Joins Loeb at Citroen to replace Ogier

Mikko Hirvonen and co-driver Jarmo Lehtinen will switch to the Citroen works team in a two-year deal from next season.

The Finns, part of Ford’s factory squad in the World Rally Championship since 2006, will replace Sebastien Ogier and Julien Ingrassia.

“Seeing Sebastien Ogier and Julien Ingrassia leave strikes a particular emotional chord in the whole team,” said Citroen Racing chief Olivier Quesnel. “Citroen Racing trained them, first of all in the JWRC and then in the Citroen Junior Team and the Citroen Total World Rally Team. They had a very good season with five victories and third place in the drivers’ world championship, and they made a productive contribution to the conquest of the manufacturers’ title alongside Sebastien Loeb and Daniel Elena who have claimed their eighth consecutive world crown, a unique achievement in motorsport.

“Now, we’re very happy to welcome Mikko Hirvonen and Jarmo Lehtinen. They’ve been our toughest rivals over the last four seasons and we’re really looking forward to our future collaboration. Mikko is a talented driver and his consistency will be a big help in our fight to retain the manufacturers’ title.”

Citroen Automobiles general manager Frederic Banzet added: “I’d like to take advantage of this occasion to repeat my congratulations to the whole Citroen Racing team for their 2011 titles, as well as Sebastien Loeb and Daniel Elena for their eighth consecutive crown. I’d also like to thank Sebastien Ogier and Julien Ingrassia for their involvement with the make over the last four years and the six victories they’ve added to its results. Today, I’d like to welcome Mikko Hirvonen and Jarmo Lehtinen who are joining us to continue Citroen Racing’s sporting adventure and its determination to score more victories starting with the 2012 Monte Carlo Rally.”

Ogier’s future in the WRC is currently unclear although speculation has linked him to drives with Ford and Volkswagen in the future.

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