BIRMINGHAM, England, 11 January 2001 - Ford is expanding its rally programme to enter a total of seven four-wheel-drive Ford Focus RS WRC cars in major national and international rally championships throughout Europe and the Middle East during...
BIRMINGHAM, England, 11 January 2001 - Ford is expanding its rally programme to enter a total of seven four-wheel-drive Ford Focus RS WRC cars in major national and international rally championships throughout Europe and the Middle East during 2001. The move boosts this rally programme from two championships in 2000 and is in addition to entering Focus RS WRC cars with the Ford Martini World Rally Team on all 14 rounds of the FIA World Rally Championship.
"The World Rally Championship is clearly Ford's most important global motorsport activity," commented Martin Whitaker, European Director of Ford Racing, speaking at the Autosport International Show today. "It provides a splendid platform on which to demonstrate the speed, durability and advanced technology of the Focus. Now Ford is taking the opportunity to demonstrate the key qualities of the Focus brand to a wider local audience by entering more than 50 top-class rallies in locations that range from northern Finland down to southern Dubai and from Northern Ireland across to eastern Poland.
"The Ford Focus is the world's top-selling road car and is also proving to be a great rally car. With Colin McRae, Carlos Sainz and Francois Delecour, Ford is a front-runner in the World Championship. Outside the world series, Focus has already claimed championship crowns in Poland and the Middle East and our aim for 2001 is to win the World Championship crown and more rallies, plus more titles, in more countries," concluded Whitaker.
During 2001 Ford-supported Focus RS WRC rally cars will be tackling the premier rally championships in 14 countries across Europe, Scandinavia and the Middle East. The Focus programmes in the Middle East and Poland are extensions of existing, highly successful operations. Last November Mohammed Ben Sulayem clinched his fourth and Ford's seventh successive Middle East title, while earlier in September, Janusz Kulig claimed the first championship crown for the Ford Focus, in Poland.
The 2001 programmes in Austria, the Czech Republic, Finland, and Britain are new. Ford's total commitment to this expanded rally activity for Focus will mean that all these programmes will use full World Rally Championship specification Ford Focus cars built, rally-prepared and operated on event by M-Sport technicians from the Dovenby Hall base of the Ford World Rally Team in Cumbria.
The driver line-up for Ford's national championship entries encompasses a host of rally and championship winners, including Raimund Baumschlager (Austria), Mark Higgins (Britain), Mika Sohlberg (Finland), Ben Sulayem (Middle East) and Kulig (Poland). Major partners in Ford's programme are Red Bull (Austria), Adnoc (Middle East) and Marlboro (Poland).
<pre> Ford-supported Focus cars contesting National Championships
Austria Driver: R Baumschlager (Austrian) Co-driver: Klaus Wicha (German) Sponsor: Red Bull Events: 9 rounds
Britain Driver: Mark Higgins (British) Co-driver: Bryan Thomas (British) Sponsor: tbc Events: 7 rounds
Czech Republic Status: Jolly Club Europe are planning to run one car. All details to be confirmed. Events: 7 rounds
Finland Driver: Mika Sohlberg (Finnish) Co-driver: Launo Heinonen Sponsor: Tremco, Fujistu Siemens Events: 7 rounds
Middle East Driver: Ben Sulayem (UAE) Co-driver: Ronan Morgan (Irish) Sponsor: Adnoc Events: 8 rounds
Poland Driver: Janusz Kulig (Polish) Co-driver: Jarek Baran (Polish) Sponsor: Marlboro Events: 8 rounds