Subaru has announced that former F1 driver Stephane Sarrazin will race for its factory World Rally Championship team in 2005, starting at Monte Carlo in January.

Subaru has announced that former F1 driver Stephane Sarrazin will race for its factory World Rally Championship team in 2005, starting at Monte Carlo in January.

The French driver was catapulted into WRC early this year and recorded three impressive performances when he finished ninth in Germany, sixth in Corsica and fourth at the Catalunya race.

Being a regular starter for the Subaru team will also allow Sarrazin to test different surfaces, since all of his last 11 rallies have been raced on tarmac.

Subaru team principal David Lapworth said: "We've been very impressed by what Sarrazin has done this year. It's remarkable that someone who has done 11 rallies and only three at WRC level can run at the pace he has.

"His approach is very professional, he's serious about everything he does, and we're expecting to see the same sort of commitment when we look to broaden his experience onto other surfaces and other WRC rallies.

"Initially we've signed Stephane for one year, but the intention of our development programme is to find a future world champion. We've selected him because we think he's got what it takes."

Sarrazin said: "It's really a very big chance for me, after one year in rally it's a great opportunity. This year I pushed a lot to improve myself, to improve my drivability and everything, and now it's just incredible to be in the official team."

Before rallying, Sarrazin was involved in circuit racing where he won a scholarship drive in WRC backed by Subaru and the French Federation.

Previously, Sarrazin had spent several years as a test driver with Prost before finishing his F1 career after one year as a test driver with Toyota in 2002. He raced a single grand prix race in 1999 at the Brazilian Grand Prix, when he was asked to stand in for an injured Luca Badoer at Minardi. A a front wing failure caused him to have a spectacular accident.