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Friday, 1 December, 2000, 16:51 GMT
Peugeot signs Auriol
Didier Auriol
Former world champion Auriol previously drove for Seat
France's Didier Auriol will drive for the world champion Peugeot team next season.

Peugeot, who clinched the 2000 drivers' and manufacturers' titles on Sunday, announced the signing of Auriol as a replacement for the departing Francois Delecour.

Auriol will drive alongside new world champion Marcus Gronholm of Finland in all 14 rounds of the series next year.

"I'm delighted to be joining Peugeot and a French team," said Auriol. "I cannot wait for the new season and to start testing the 206 as soon as I can."

Driver row

Peugeot Sport boss Corrado Provera said: "As a result of this year's success, we will be seen as the team to beat in 2001.

"We decided Didier Auriol, with all his previous world championship experience and obvious speed, would be the perfect team-mate for Marcus.

"We nearly made a deal with Didier for last year but did not manage to sign him."

Frenchman Delecour's departure follows a disagreement with Peugeot motorsport chief Corrado Provera after Gronholm's title triumph on Sunday.

Francois Delecour
Delecour finds himself looking for work

Provera praised Delecour's contribution this year, but claimed his departure was "in the best interests of our future success".

He added: "Francois has done a very good job. I'm not saying that because I have to but because I mean it."

Peugeot will also field a third car on each round of next year's championship, to be driven by either French Tarmac expert Gilles Panizzi or Finnish gravel specialist Harri Rovanpera, depending on the surface.

Auriol drove for Seat this year, but the Spanish outfit has decided to withdraw from the sport.

Auriol, 42, joined the World Rally championship in 1988 and won the title in 1994.

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See also:

14 Nov 00 |  Motorsport
Seat: End of the line
14 Nov 00 |  Motorsport
Auriol: Champion kicking his heels
24 Nov 00 |  Photo Galleries
Rally of Great Britain in pictures
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