Peugeot are drafting in Sebastien Ogier to lend support to Kris Meeke on next week’s fifth round of the Intercontinental Rally Challenge in Sardinia.
Reigning champion Meeke, from Dungannon, has been fighting a virtual lone battle for Peugeot against a powerful trio of Skoda drivers this season and although he won in Brazil, the Ulsterman has slipped to fourth in the IRC standings after successive victories by the Czech squad in Argentina and Gran Canaria.
And importantly for Peugeot they trail Skoda by 31 points in the manufacturers’ championship after Meeke led them to the title last year.
Now Ogier, who drives for the Citroen junior team in the World championship and is strongly tipped to step up to the official team alongside Sebastien Loeb next season, will join Meeke for the Rally d’Italia in an enhanced Peugeot challenge which will also include four-time Italian champion Paolo Andreucci.
The young Frenchman is no stranger to the IRC having won on his debut in Monte Carlo in 2009 and was challenging again this year until his S2000 Peugeot 207 was sidelined by alternator failure.
The rough gravel roads of Sardinia are expected to favour the robust Skoda Fabias of championship leader Juho Hanninen, Guy Wilks and Jan Kopecky, although Meeke has been carrying out extensive suspension test work with his Peugeot team.