Ford of Europe has confirmed that it will continue its commitment to the World Rally Championship for the next two seasons, bringing to an end speculation that the Blue Oval
could quit the sport.
In an announcement ahead of Rally Finland this weekend, Ford confirmed that Malcolm Wilson's M-Sport company will remain in charge of the WRC programme, which will continue with the Focus in 2010 before Ford switches to the new Fiesta S2000 for 2011.
Despite continued question marks over his future due to a number of high profile errors during the season to date, Jari-Matti Latvala will be retained as part of the driver line-up alongside current championship leader Mikko Hirvonen. Backing will also continue from both BP and Abu Dhabi.
"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,” Ford of Europe chairman and CEO John Fleming said. “This renewed commitment builds on the excellent relationship that we have with Malcolm and his dedicated team.
"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.”
Ian Slater, Ford of Europe's vice president of communications and public affairs, added that the company was keen to try and add to the championship titles secured in recent seasons and said he was confident that continued involvement in the WRC would prove to be beneficial to the company.
"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,”he said, “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.”