Malcolm Wilson believes that the World Rally Championship could be even more exciting this season and that the loss of Subaru and Suzuki won't necessarily be a bad thing.
Speaking exclusively to Crash.net Radio
at the Autosport International Show at Birmingham's NEC, the BP Ford Abu Dhabi World Rally team director explained that while the exit of those two manufacturers' was a blow, it could end up being a good thing for the fans in some ways.
Indeed Subaru refugee Chris Atkinson has already secured a drive with the Citroen Junior Team for the Rally Ireland and Wilson reckons that could potentially mean a few more people have a chance to stand on the top step of the podium.
"Nobody likes to see the two Japanese teams disappear from the sport, but if you look - and we still don't know what will happen with Petter [Solberg] although Chris [Atkinson] will be competing - in real terms, Subaru sadly hadn't won a rally for three and half years so in many ways, it will be more competitive if Chris and Petter end up in more competitive cars," he reasoned.
"It will make it more difficult for us to win rallies and the spectators won't suffer. Okay, the two Japanese brands won't be there but hopefully the drivers will be and they will be fighting for victory. So for the spectators, it could be even more exciting."
Despite expecting things to be more competitive though, Wilson is upbeat about Ford's prospects of challenging and winning both the drivers' and manufacturers' titles.
"I think our performance in 2008 was above our expectations. We didn't expect to go into the final round of the year with a chance of still winning the title so that tells you that our two young boys did a great job," he continued. "They had a difficult task, with Mikko [Hirvonen] basically replacing Marcus [Gronholm] and in an ideal world, we'd have probably liked Jari-Matti [Latvala] to have an extra twelve months in the Stobart team.
"There were some great moments, like Jari-Matti getting his first ever WRC win in Sweden, becoming the youngest driver ever to do it, and also in the way Mikko developed to set another record by being the only driver to ever score points on every round of the championship.
"There are a lot of positives to take out of the season and to take into 2009 because everyone can see that the potential is there in both of our guys and with the extra experience they now have, we feel confident we will be challenging for both championships this year."