Sébastien Ogier will remain with Toyota Gazoo Racing next season, extending his World Rally Championship career by another year.
The six-time champion, who has already won 48 rounds of the world championship in 12 years at the top, announced he would retire at the end of 2020 at the start of last season.
The current coronavirus-interrupted program has, however, prompted him to add another year to his single-season deal to drive a Yaris WRC; though the extension is not confirmed, it is believed to be a formality.
Toyota team principal Tommi Mäkinen told DirtFish: “We have discussed and he has said he would like to continue with us one more year.
“We have nothing against this idea, of course, he is one of the best drivers we have ever had, and he is absolutely good teacher for the young drivers. Yes, of course, we would like to keep him very much. The feeling is definitely the same from Japan.”
Last month Ogier confirmed to DirtFish he was interested in staying in the sport. Speaking to French website AUTOHebdo this week, the Frenchman went further than that.
He said: “This year 2020 is complicated, so I plan to do one more season. It is not yet fully acquired. I currently only have a one-year contract, but we have started to talk about it with the team.”
Ogier’s team-mates next season will remain Elfyn Evans, Kalle Rovanperä and junior driver Takamoto Katsuta, all of whom have contracts with Toyota into next year. News of Ogier’s second season in a Yaris WRC will be welcomed at the Puuppola-based squad, where this year’s all-new line-up has gelled immediately.
Evans and Ogier have won the last two rounds of the WRC in Sweden and México, with the Welshman relinquishing his P1 championship status to Ogier after March’s León event.