Private Ford Focus RS WRC drivers competing in selected rounds of the FIA 2004 World Rally Championship will not only be fighting for points and a top place on the event leaderboard, but also to secure the opportunity of an M-Sport supported drive at a European Rally of their choice the following season.
M-Sport Ltd, the United Kingdom based specialist Motorsport Company who runs Ford BP Rallye Sport in the FIA World Rally Championship, has announced a special award for private Ford Focus WRC customers competing in European rounds of the prestigious World Rally Championship.
M-Sport Director, Malcolm Wilson, said the M-Sport WRC Ford Focus Challenge will reward the most successful private Ford driver with the opportunity to join the M-Sport team with a fully supported drive in latest-specification Ford Focus RS WRC03 in a European Rally of their choice in 2005.
"With the changes to the World Rally Championship regulations making it more difficult for up-and-coming drivers to secure a manufacturers drive, it is important that we continue to offer our customers ways in which to develop and expand their rally careers. Through the M-Sport WRC Ford Focus Challenge they will be given the opportunity to not only impress us in a drive we will support fully, but also to impress other teams. We hope it will provide an important next step for those looking for that often elusive move from professional privateer to factory driver" he said.
To be eligible for the M-Sport WRC Ford Focus Challenge, competitors driving any Ford Focus WRC up to and including 2002 specification must register to compete in a maximum of six of eleven specified 'European' World Rally Championship events, with their best four results counting toward their overall result.
There are currently more than 25 privateers driving Ford Focus WRCs in various championships, with more than half regularly competing in FIA World Rally Championship events. M-Sport currently support private Ford drivers on WRC events by providing dedicated engineering support and a spare parts service which not only helps to reduce cost but also increases the competitiveness of the Focus at world level.
"To offer the M-Sport WRC Ford Focus Challenge as a 'next step' is a natural progression in the development of our privateer programme," continued Malcolm Wilson. "Many of our customers have proved to be incredibly competitive this season and a number of them have enjoyed top points finishes. With less manufacturers entrants competing next year, but still considerable media interest in the championship, private customers' performance will be acknowledged in the increased coverage that the WRC provides. And if that performance results in a fully supported drive at an event of their choice the following season, the marketing opportunities and coverage for both themselves and their sponsors will be immeasurable," he concluded.
M-SPORT WRC FORD FOCUS CHALLENGE: Rules and Regulations.
The competition is open to any driver of a Ford Focus WRC up to and including 2002 specification, and they must nominate six events from 11 'European' rallies with the best four results from the nominated rallies to count towards the overall result.
The 11 Rallies are:
1. Monte Carlo
8. Great Britain
The 'best' 4 results from the nominated rallies to count towards the overall result and the points will be allocated as follows:
1st Ford Focus WRC driver in the Overall Classification 10 points
2nd Ford Focus WRC driver in the Overall Classification 8 points
3rd Ford Focus WRC driver in the Overall Classification 6 points
4th Ford Focus WRC driver in the Overall Classification 5 points
5th Ford Focus WRC driver in the Overall Classification 4 points
6th Ford Focus WRC driver in the Overall Classification 3 points
7th Ford Focus WRC driver in the Overall Classification 2 points
8th Ford Focus WRC driver in the Overall Classification 1 point
In the event of a tiebreak the result will be decided by the highest number of 1st positions.