Ford announces 2005 Europe racing programs

WRC to remain at peak of Ford's motorsport pyramid BRUSSELS, November 2, 2004 - Ford of Europe today outlined its support for a wide-ranging series of motorsport disciplines designed to endorse the Company's exciting new range of road cars. ...

WRC to remain at peak of Ford's motorsport pyramid

BRUSSELS, November 2, 2004 - Ford of Europe today outlined its support for a wide-ranging series of motorsport disciplines designed to endorse the Company's exciting new range of road cars. In keeping with Ford of Europe's strong heritage, World Championship Rallying is confirmed as the Company's primary Motorsport activity.

Ford has announced a four-year agreement, representing a major commitment to the FIA World Rally Championship as well as a renewed partnership with their long-standing British-based rallying partners M-Sport.

Underlining this in Ford's 'pyramid' of motorsport activities, and following an extensive review of its motorsport strategy, the Company is restating its strong support for a wide range of motorsport activities right down to the 'grassroots'. Cascading down from WRC through Junior World Rally and touring car racing, then Formula Ford single-seater racing and one-make race championships.

Lewis Booth, Chairman and CEO, Ford of Europe, emphasised the Company's commitment to motorsport and rallying in particular. "We have carried out a long and comprehensive review of the motorsport scene and Ford's involvement in it," Booth said. "As part of our review we have developed a motorsport strategy for Ford of Europe which builds on our rallying heritage and confirms support for privateers but is integrated into our core business to support our brand strategy for the future."

Four-year WRC commitment

Ford is making a four-year commitment to the FIA World Rally Championship, building on the success achieved already with the current Focus and using the new generation Focus as the logical platform for future activities. Central to this commitment is a strengthened partnership with British-based company M-Sport.

"World Championship Rallying will continue to be our headline activity and Ford's commitment to be present and successful in a number of motorsport categories, from grass roots level upwards continues unabated. Our approach to motorsport displays strength in depth, but it is targeted primarily to show the strengths of our road car products and to reach a wide public in the most competitive environment," Booth said.

FIA World Rally Championship at the Peak of Ford's Effort

Ford of Europe's major motorsport involvement at the 'works' level will continue to be in the FIA World Rally Championship.

"We have signed an agreement with M-Sport's Malcolm Wilson which will ensure Ford remains in the series for the next four seasons," Booth said. "From 2006 onwards the Company will be represented by an all-new Ford Focus RS WRC, which will be developed over the course of the next season by M- Sport.

The Ford Fiesta will also be prominent in the Company's rallying plans. M- Sport will integrate the Fiesta JWRC into its business to develop the car further for customer use in national and international rallying.

Wide-ranging Motorsport support

Ford of Europe's commitment goes much deeper than just rallying and encompasses support for Formula Ford, single-make racing series and touring car racing.

On the race circuits, the Fiesta ST Cup will continue in Germany for a third season, while the potential for taking the series into other European countries will be investigated. Formula Ford racers will also benefit as the Company extends its support of the Formula Ford UK Championship into 2005.

Ford has also developed a new Ford Focus touring car concept to explore the increasing popularity of this branch of motorsport.

"The new Focus will provide the platform for this touring car initiative. The car is intended to allow customer teams to compete at the highest level of touring car racing, but with the emphasis on producing a competitive car at an affordable price," said Booth.

Formation of Team RS Paying Dividends

Ford of Europe's motorsport strategy is built around a dedicated team of specialists.

"As you know, about 18 months ago we combined our motorsport engineers with our performance road car specialists into one team, appropriately called Ford TeamRS, under the leadership of Jost Capito," Booth said. "Now with our strengthened relationship with M-Sport for World Championship Rallying this is paying dividends. This small, dedicated team has taken our road cars and turned them into something special, both for our customers to drive on the road and for our motorsport activities."

"The common denominator within our motorsport plans is that they are all integrated into our brand strategy. Jost and his team at Ford TeamRS have been working hard on producing exciting performance cars. Our new eye- catching Ford Fiesta ST is being launched over the next two months and our plans for a performance version of the new Focus in 2005 are well advanced. I'm sure that our success in competition will showcase perfectly the great products that we will have available for our customers on the road," added Booth.

-ford.europe-

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Series OPENWHEEL , RALLY , WRC