M-Sport managing director Malcolm Wilson has confirmed that his team should continue in the World Rally Championship next year, although currently 'he can't say anything yet'.
The Cumbrian-based firm did run the factory Ford team up until the end of last season, when the 'Blue Oval' quit, ending its works programme. M-Sport then secured backing from Qatar, and this season Mads Ostberg, Evgeny Novikov, Thierry Neuville and Nasser Al-Attiyah - amongst others - have all run in Fiesta RS WRC cars in Qatari colours.
“Well, that is certainly the plan,” Wilson told reporters ahead of the start of Rallye Deutschland, when asked if M-Sport will be back in 2014. “I am not planning anything else.
"We know we have a competitive car and the freeze of the technical regulations for next year means we will remain competitive for 2014 as well, which is great for the drivers to know too.
“When you see what has happened in Finland [and how good a battle it was], it is what the sport has been missing for many years.”
So when will they make an announcement? “Historically, in the past few years, it always was the closing date for registration with the FIA. [But] I hope it can be a little bit sooner this year. We are discussing at the moment, but I can't say anything yet,” he added.
Meanwhile, pressed on what the team might do on the driver front, Wilson said he sees no reason to change things.
“When you look at the progress Thierry [Neuville] and Mads [Ostberg] have made, why would we want to change?
“It is really encouraging to see them [all] do so well. We [have] made some small improvements on the car [too].
"With Thierry, there is a great buzz with him within the team. Twelve months ago we didn't even know whether we would be in the WRC for this year, and now he is second in the standings, so that is really positive.”
“I was [of course] hoping he would do well. Certainly the last few events were really encouraging. He and [co-driver] Nicolas [Gilsoul] did a great job - they are working really well with the engineers and found ways to improve the car. They are getting rewarded for their efforts. I don't see why he can't win this weekend [either]. For his career, it would be best to be in a position to fight for victories, and then he can win like anyone else.
“But for me, the most important thing is to make sure we can stay in the WRC with a competitive team and then I can keep these drivers on board.”