WRC: VW drivers closing on 2017 deals

2016-11-17 06:11:22

Volkswagen refugees Sebastien Ogier, Jari-Matti Latvala and Andreas Mikkelsen are likely to settle their 2017 World Rally Championship seats by the end of November.

The three VW drivers are understood to be working through their contracts with their management and legal teams at present. WRC champion Ogier remains at the forefront of discussions, with a two-horse race between M-Sport and Citroen developing over his services.

Asked to comment on how negotiations were progressing, M-Sport team principal Malcolm Wilson said: "Sebastien and I are in discussion. In all honesty, that's all I can say. He hasn't driven the car, there are a few things to get sorted out."

Ogier has remained silent on where he might go following the shock withdrawal of his current employer, but Citroen is known to be working on possibilities for him as well.

Sources insist Latvala is closing on a deal with the Tommi Makinen-run Toyota program (below).

"We haven't made any decisions yet," Latvala's manager Timo Jouhki said. "It's quite clear there's nothing at Hyundai and Citroen. We're not doing anything on that line, but they might do something for Ogier. So that leaves M-Sport and Toyota and we are talking to them both.

"I understand people are making the connection with Tommi, because I managed him as well, because the team is based in Finland and because Jari-Matti is Finnish. I can tell you nothing is done, but we are getting closer to one of the places."

Citroen's Yves Matton has previously said he has limited interest in Latvala and Mikkelsen because "they are not French and they are not world champions."

While Ogier and Latvala appear close to new drives, there is less clarity over Mikkelsen's destination. But his manager Erik Veiby is confident he will secure a 2017 seat without much delay.

"Nothing is really clear regarding the termination of the contract with Volkswagen, but we are talking to several teams about next year and I am confident we will see Andreas with a top team," he said.

Although Ogier has remained tight-lipped over his future, he recently broke his silence regarding VW's decision in an interview with French newspaper L'Equipe.

"I'm fine – there is worse in life," he said. "I have just lived four fantastic seasons with a fantastic team and we all would have liked the story to go on. But I'm already looking ahead with optimism.

"Today we can be proud of what we have accomplished together and I prefer to remember all these good times and be happy that it happened rather than being saddened by what is happening now."

Ogier added that he was struggling to comprehend that this week's Rally Australia would be his VW farewell.

"The final rally with Volkswagen – that sounds crazy," he said. "Although my starting position is not exactly promising, I will do everything in my power to ensure that we have something to celebrate together again after our final outing in Australia."


Originally on Autosport.com

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