Mikkelsen joins Hyundai, Citroen target Ogier

Paris (AFP) –


Andreas Mikkelsen is switching from Citroen to Hyundai for the closing three legs of the 2017 world rally championship.

The Norwegian was left without a full-time seat when Volkswagen pulled out of the series at the end of 2016.

He joined Citroen for three rallies, finishing second in Germany last month.

With his departure the French car giants are now intent on signing four-time world champion Sebastien Ogier for 2018.

"Sebastien Ogier is clearly our number one objective," Citroen Racing boss Yves Matton told AFP on Tuesday.

He explained that budget constraints had prevented them retaining Mikkelsen while at the same time trying to secure the services of French rally ace Ogier.

"Talks with Ogier are continuing normally, but there's nothing decided yet, it's too early," added Matton, who raised the possibility of nine-time former champion Sebastien Loeb returning "for two or three rallies" next season.

Mikkelsen joins a Hyundai driver line-up consisting of Thierry Neuville and Dani Sordo in next month's Rally of Catalunya, with Hayden Paddon dropped.

Mikkelsen, who tested for his new team earlier this year, said: "I had a really positive feeling, which I am sure we will find again in these last three events of the season.

"My aim is to do all I can to help the team in the manufacturers? championship."

The Ford Fiestas of M-Sport lead the manufacturers' standings on 325 points with Hyundai second on 261.