Ford insists it remains committed to the World Rally Championship despite seeing both Suzuki and Subaru withdraw from the series in the space of two days.
While Suzuki had been widely tipped to call time on its WRC programme after a year with the SX4, the announcement yesterday [Tuesday] that Subaru was to follow suit came as more of a surprise as one of the leading teams in the history of the championship elected to quit – blaming the current global economic climate for its decision.
It leaves only Ford and Citroen as manufacturers for 2009, with the Blue Oval having only committed to next season during the recent Wales Rally GB.
Despite the fact that Ford is one of the manufacturers to have been hit by the economic slowdown, a statement said it still viewed the WRC as good value and it was focused on fighting for the titles in 2009.
"We are naturally disappointed to learn of the withdrawal of both Japanese manufacturers," the statement read. "Ford announced during Rally GB earlier this month that we will participate in 2009 and we look forward to renewing our challenge with the Ford Focus RS WRC for both the manufacturers' and drivers' championships.
"Involvement in the WRC benefits Ford in various ways. It provides a big impetus to our product reputation and sales, especially for the Focus.
"For Ford to demonstrate our products in a successful way, on a global basis via television and the internet, through involvement in the World Rally Championship represents good value."