First MINI, now Ford. In a matter of days two manufacturers have withdrawn their factory support from the world’s premier rally category. Ford has offered factory support to the M-Sport team since 1997. That support will cease at the end of the 2012 season.
Ford of Europe confirmed their exit on Monday with Roelant de Waard, vice president, Marketing, Sales and Service, stating this via an official press release: “Ford has a long and proud history in the WRC and this was not an easy decision. At this time, however we determined that it was better for the company and the Ford brand to reduce our commitment to the WRC and deploy our resources in other areas.”
The M-Sport team plans to continue in 2013 with their Fiesta RS WRC cars. In his response to Ford’s announcement team boss Malcolm Wilson said: “I would like to thank Ford of Europe for their enthusiastic support and the faith shown in the team over the past 16 seasons.
“We understand that tough decisions have had to be made to safeguard Ford jobs, we accept the commercial reality of the situation and look forward to continuing our strong technical partnership into the future.
“M-Sport is extremely proud of our history with Ford since 1997; 208 podium finishes, scoring points on 156 consecutive events and 52 wins from 225 starts in the WRC along with two world titles underlines the dedication and commitment of the whole team in Cumbria.
”My intention is that we will continue to push to secure stage wins and overall results on the forthcoming events for Ford and to push forward with the development work that was started in March this year to improve and refine the Fiesta WRC even further, ready for the 2013 season.
”We will also continue to work closely with our colleagues at Ford Racing towards the launch of the Fiesta R5 for March 2013 and the improvements that we are working on for the R2 car which will continue to the form the basis of a series of national and regional young driver programmes in the future.
“Confirmation of our key championship programmes for 2013 is our first priority and a challenge that the team here is very much looking forward to. After that we can review all options and determine the right direction for the future.”