BP Ford team director, Malcolm Wilson could barely contain himself after they secured the manufacturers' title on the Rally New Zealand on Sunday.
Ford utterly dominated this weekend's event, taking a perfect one-two result, something that assures them of the manufacturers' as they now have a 25 point lead over Kronos Citroen with just one round to go. Speaking at the finish at Mystery Creek, Wilson said the title brings him 'great personal satisfaction', especially as they have come close to taking the manufacturers' in the past – and were runners-up on five different occasions, namely in 2004, 2002, 2001, 2000 and 1997.
“This is a special moment for me and for Ford as well. I have been running the team for 10 years and been close on a few occasions but we have never delivered the ultimate prize. It's been 27 years since Ford won a title. For me the whole of my life has been dedicated to Ford in one way and another and to be able to win the Manufacturers' Championship is the biggest achievement for me and means more to me than anything else,” he noted.
“When we won Acropolis in 1997 the feeling was better than anything I achieved as a driver, but to win the title for Ford - which has a wonderful heritage in the sport - is the icing on the cake.”
Asked why it had taken so long, especially as M-Sport began running the WRC programme for Ford back in 1997, Wilson explained that it is all to do with getting the right people in place and getting the right finance and infrastructure. He also added that he is convinced they will be able to maintain this form now in the years to come.
“It takes time to get in a position to challenge for titles; 10 years is a long time but we have been building the infrastructure and resources to get to this position, now we are in a position where we can sustain it and we really look forward to the future and are confident we can go on from here next year and be in a position to win rallies,” he added. “I would really like to say the drivers (have made the difference) but in all honesty the stress they have put me through on this rally, it is difficult to say that!
“But in all honesty I have to go back to the design of the car. We have a great team led by Christian Loriaux; unfortunately he is not here but everyone has played a part and they are all celebrating and linked back in the factory on a web cam. But really this year is about the drivers. It was a great moment for me to get Marcus [Gronholm] to the team when it was going to be our development year. But when the chance came up we took it, although the negotiations were interesting! And then looking to the future we decided on Mikko [Hirvonen]. We had worked with him in 2003 so I had confidence in what he can deliver and we thought what a great opportunity for two Finns to work together and for Mikko to learn from Marcus. That is there for everybody to see. It is great the way they have worked as a team and they have played a big part in developing the car. We had a fantastic start in Monte Carlo and Sweden and then hit the problems we expected to hit, but the guys did a great job addressing those issues which has put us in the position we are in now.”
Wilson meanwhile also paid to tribute to BF Goodrich, who supply the team with its tyres: “Obviously it really is a huge team effort and I think that is what I am proud about most; the commitment from everyone to get us in this position. But it is important as well to have every ingredient to get to this position. There has been mention of tyres on this event, lots of talk about wrong choices and we were in that position as well. But if you think about it, it is the only thing between the car and the road and we have a long and good relationship with BF Goodrich and I would like to thank them for their support and technical help over the years, and obviously it is great for them in their first year in the World Championship, as such," he continued.
“But for me it is just an incredible moment; we've been trying for 10 years, there's been a lot of sleepless nights for a lot of people, and myself, but it is a fantastic feeling, one I will treasure forever and to do it for the Ford Motor Company, it gives me great pleasure to be sat here in that position.”