M-Sport will compete in the World Rally Championship next season after announcing a new partnership with Qatar.
Under the agreement the Cumbrian-based firm, which has had to secure backing after Ford's decision to stop its factory programme
, will enter three Qatari liveried Ford Fiesta RS WRCs in the 2013 championship. The squad will compete under the Qatar M-Sport World Rally Team banner, as reported on Crash.net earlier this month
Nasser Al-Attiyah will drive one of the three cars, taking in seven of the 13 rounds around his other motorsport commitments and beginning his season in Sweden.
The Qatari driver is said to have been 'instrumental' in making the partnership become a reality and he already enjoys a strong relationship with M-Sport. Indeed he is set to do battle for a record-breaking eighth FIA Middle East Rally Championship title with M-Sport's Ford Fiesta RRC at the end of this month.
“We are delighted to welcome such a prestigious partner as Qatar on board for 2013,” said M-Sport managing director, Malcolm Wilson OBE. “The partnership with Nasser [Al-Attiyah] and the Qatari State will enable M-Sport to continue at the pinnacle of the sport and we are looking forward to working together in the future. Since the 2012 season came to a close, work has not stopped and the entire team is working around the clock to ensure we deliver a strong package for next year.”
“We are looking forward to building on our strong relationship with M-Sport and working with them in 2013,” added Al-Attiyah, who this year of course competed in the WRC with a Citroen DS3 WRC.
“I have a good knowledge of the car having driven the [Ford] Fiesta S2000 to its debut win in 2010 and now looking to secure my eighth title in the Middle East with the [Ford] Fiesta RRC.
“I am now really looking forward to getting behind the wheel of the [Ford] Fiesta RS WRC and contesting as many WRC events as I can around my other motorsport commitments.”
Al-Attiyah's team-mates have still to be confirmed, but Petter Solberg and Mads Ostberg are believed to be the favourites with Ott Tanak and Evgeny Novikov more outside bets.