Ford of Europe has confirmed its commitment to the FIA World Rally Championship by announcing its continued participation for the next two seasons. Ford, together with long-term partner M-Sport, will continue its successful WRC programme in 2010 and 2011.
The record-breaking Ford Focus RS World Rally Car, which claimed the manufacturers’ world title in 2006 and 2007, will again contest the championship next season. In 2011 the team will switch to the all-new Ford Fiesta S2000, based on the hugely successful Fiesta road car which is one of Europe’s top-selling vehicles.
The team will retain its current driver line-up of Mikko Hirvonen / Jarmo Lehtinen and Jari-Matti Latvala / Miikka Anttila. Senior partners BP and Abu Dhabi will also continue their support.
Ford has a long and successful heritage in world rallying. With 71 world rally wins in WRC and a record-breaking 115 consecutive points finishes, Ford is one of the most successful and formidable teams in the series. Ford of Europe chairman and CEO John Fleming highlighted the strong will to continue from both parties. “We’ve worked closely with Malcolm and M-Sport to reach this point, and today’s announcement is important because it emphasises the commitment that we share about maintaining Ford’s prominent position in motorsport globally. This renewed commitment builds on the excellent relationship that we have with Malcolm and his dedicated team,” he said.
“The WRC is motorsport’s toughest competition for production-based vehicles and we’re delighted to be extending our participation. I believe that our successes in WRC and other motorsport disciplines give Ford employees the opportunity to be proud of the company for which they work. I hope they will share my pride at seeing Ford’s vehicles on the winners’ podium around the world for years to come,” he added.
Ian Slater, Ford of Europe’s Vice President of Communications and Public Affairs, said: “Everyone at Ford is proud of our long heritage in Motorsport, and proud of the successes we’ve enjoyed in WRC, particularly our world titles in 2006 and 2007, and this new commitment with Malcolm to WRC shows that we are hungry for more success.
“Just as the World Rally Championship is important to Ford, we understand also how important Ford’s continuing participation is to the WRC itself. Everyone is working hard to make international rallying more attractive for manufacturers, the news media, and the viewing public, and we’re confident that this will increase the benefits to Ford, and draw in more competitors in the coming years,” he added.
Gerard Quinn, (formerly Ford of Cork) Senior Manager, Motorsport, at Ford of Europe commented on today’s announcement. “Ford participation in WRC is targeted to display the attributes of our road products and to send a clear message to the public from a hugely competitive environment. The WRC is a global showroom and our continuation in the championship is not only beneficial for Ford, but also for the sport as a whole.
“The WRC has made significant progress recently, particularly in reducing the costs of participation and confirming new long-term technical regulations to bring much-needed stability for manufacturers. We believe that with the help of these changes the championship will benefit from greater global media exposure as it goes from strength to strength, and lead to other manufacturers following our path over the next two years,” said Quinn.
M-Sport Managing Director and Team Director Malcolm Wilson said: “I’m delighted to continue our partnership with Ford. The announcement is a further vote of confidence in M-Sport and displays the importance in which Ford holds the WRC.
“We have a young and dynamic driver line-up which continues to gain in experience and maturity. The Focus RS WRC has displayed its speed, strength and reliability time and again, while we have the infrastructure in place at our Dovenby Hall base to develop, with Ford’s support, the Fiesta S2000 into a car capable of taking the fight to our rivals in 2011. We’re not in WRC just for fun, we’re there to challenge for titles and we’ll do everything to win.
“Throughout 2010 and 2011 we expect to maintain Ford’s significant presence in the WRC service park, both through the official ‘works’ team and via our customers,” added Wilson.