Martin joins Peugeot

Markko Martin today confirmed he will leave Ford to join Peugeot for next season’s world rally championship.

The Estonian was out of contract and widely expected to leave for Peugeot until the French team announced plans to withdraw from the sport at the end of next season.

But despite knowing Peugeot’s time in world rallying is coming to an end, Martin has jumped at the chance to partner two-time world champion Marcus Gronholm next season.

Martin, who won three rallies on his way to third in the championship last season, said: “Despite this agreement being limited to just one year, I’m very happy to be joining Peugeot and I’m looking forward to having Marcus as a team-mate.

“We get on well together and I have a great deal of respect for him. I believe he is still the fastest driver in the championship.

“My main objective will be to work closely with Marcus and the team to enhance the competitiveness of the Peugeot 307 and to play my part in securing the manufacturers’ and drivers’ titles.”

Gronholm is convinced Peugeot have picked the right man as his partner.

Peugeot’s hopes of a manufacturers’ title challenge were hampered last season by generally below-par performances from Freddy Loix and Harri Rovanpera, who shared the second car.

“Markko is a first-class recruit,” Gronholm said. “He’s shown that he’s very strong on all types of surface and that he’s very important for Peugeot’s bid to secure the manufacturers’ championship in 2005.

“I’m certain his arrival in the team will ensure a serene, cordial atmosphere.”

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