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Citroen leaves world championship as Ogier exits

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By Reuters
Citroen leaves world championship as Ogier exits
FILE PHOTO: French driver Sebastien Ogier during the Neste Rally in Jyväskylä, Finland August 1, 2019. Lehtikuva/Roni Rekomaa/via REUTERS   -   Copyright  LEHTIKUVA(Reuters)

(Reuters) – Citroen is leaving the world rally championship with immediate effect after six-times world champion Sebastien Ogier announced his departure from the team, the French manufacturer said on Wednesday.

Citroen Racing said it had made the decision “due to the absence of a first-class driver available for (the) 2020 season.”

The website said Ogier was expected to be announced as a Toyota driver on Monday.

Toyota’s Estonian Ott Tanak won the driver’s title in Spain last month, ending Ogier’s six year reign, but announced four days later that he was joining Hyundai for 2020.

Hyundai secured the manufacturers’ crown when this month’s season-ending Australian race was called off due to the threat of bushfires.

“Our decision to withdraw from WRC programme as early as end of 2019 follows on Sebastien Ogier’s choice to leave Citroen Racing,” said Citroen CEO Linda Jackson.

“We obviously have not wished this situation but we could not imagine 2020 season without Sebastien.”

(Reporting by Alan Baldwin in London, editing by Christian Radnedge)