Bryan Bouffier will return to the top tier of the World Rally Championship, in the series’ season opener in Monte Carlo, driving the third M-Sport Ford Fiesta.

Bouffier, who won the 2011 Monte Carlo Rally when it was part of the Intercontinental Rally Challenge, will drive alongside five-time champion Sebastien Ogier and Welshman Elfyn Evans.

The Frenchman will get a second outing in Corsica, the venue of his last WRC event, where he retired driving a Fiesta R5 car in the WRC2 class.

“I honestly didn’t think I would get an opportunity to drive this car, not even on tests, so I am very excited,” said Bouffier.

“It’s always a great pleasure to work with Malcolm [Wilson] and the M-Sport team and their amazing success in 2017 makes me very proud to work with them again.

“Monte and Corsica are two very different events, but they are also two of my favourites.

“They’re the two French rounds of the season and it is always a pleasure to drive on home soil – even more so with this new car.”

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Bouffier came second in the 2014 Monte Carlo Rally and was on course for seventh two years later before breaking his suspension.

The 39-year-old has driven a wide range of cars throughout his career, most recently beating three-time European Rally Champion Kajetan Kajetanowicz by just 0.3 seconds to win the Rally di Roma Capitale in the penultimate ERC rally of 2017 in a Fiesta R5.

Team principal Malcom Wilson added: “These are two of the most specialised rallies on the calendar and the conditions and tyre selections can so often determine who succeeds.

“With Bryan’s knowledge, we will have another string to our bow as we look to defend our championship titles.”

Youngster Teemu Suninen is expected to be handed eight outings in the Fiesta R5, with 2016 M-Sport driver Eric Camilli taking the remaining three events.