Ford commits to long-term participation in WRC BRUSSELS, November 2, 2004 - Ford of Europe today announced a major commitment to the World Rally Championship. The Company has entered into a four-year agreement with Malcolm Wilson's ...
Ford commits to long-term participation in WRC
BRUSSELS, November 2, 2004 - Ford of Europe today announced a major commitment to the World Rally Championship. The Company has entered into a four-year agreement with Malcolm Wilson's British-based M-Sport company, which has operated Ford's WRC programme for the past eight years.
The commitment ensures Ford's continuing presence at the top level of world rallying with the highly successful Focus. The existing Focus RS WRC will be the Company's challenger in the 2005 championship. An all-new Focus RS WRC rally car, based on the new road car which goes on sale in Europe later this month, will be introduced from 2006 onwards.
"We have carried out a long and comprehensive review of the motorsport scene and Ford's involvement in it," said Booth. "As part of our review we have developed a motorsport strategy which builds on our rallying heritage and is integrated into our core business.
"I'm delighted to announce that the headline news in that strategy is that Ford will enter into a long-term commitment to the World Rally Championship. We have further strengthened our long-running partnership with Malcolm Wilson's M-Sport company."
New Ford Focus RS WRC
The new generation Focus will continue a family tradition that has seen the model provide the backbone of Ford's motorsport activity since 1999. With the launch of the new generation Ford Focus well underway, Ford believes it provides a strong new base for future rally activities. Ford will showcase an all-new Ford Focus RS WRC in World Championship Rallying from 2006 onwards following a development period during 2005.
"Ford's long-term commitment to the WRC will provide a great boost to the sport," said Jost Capito, Director of Ford Team RS.
"Ford has been involved in rallying since before the World Rally Championship was conceived," Capito said. "Our continuation in WRC is excellent news for the championship and emphasises just how much the sport has developed in recent years.
"Our review showed there is a strong business case for Ford's continued involvement. The proposals from the FIA to reduce the costs of competing in the WRC, via revisions to the regulations, convinced us to continue long term. While the exact nature of those revisions has still to be finalised, I welcome these moves. We at Ford look forward to working with the FIA and the other manufacturers to make the sport as cost-effective as possible.
"Since 1997, we have worked closely with M-Sport to develop a world class rally team operating from world class facilities at Malcolm Wilson's Dovenby Hall premises. We believe that the infrastructure is now in place for us to move forward and build a team capable of bringing world titles to Ford," he added.
Strengthened partnership with M-Sport
Ford of Europe's four-year commitment strengthens considerably its partnership with M-Sport. Malcolm Wilson said: "This agreement is wonderful news for both Ford and M-Sport and is the culmination of much effort over the past few months by many people from our respective organisations. I would like to thank Ford for the confidence it has shown in M-Sport by extending our partnership for the next four years. I also wish to express my gratitude to my team at Dovenby Hall, which has put such huge effort and enthusiasm into the programme for the past eight seasons.
"A four-year programme allows us the opportunity to develop the new Ford Focus into a challenger for WRC success. Development of the new car will begin immediately and will run alongside our existing WRC commitments throughout the 2005 season. We have 14 months from now until the opening round of the 2006 season so the timescale is set for us to work to.
"We have the strongest structure in place at Dovenby Hall, both in terms of experienced personnel and facilities, since M-Sport took over responsibility for the programme at the end of 1996. That will be used to design what I am sure will be a winning car for 2006 onwards, while continuing to maintain the high standards we have set with the current Focus RS WRC during 2004," he added.