Ford's rallying arm has confirmed that former world champion Colin McRae has signed a new, two-year, contract with the marque.

McRae, who celebrates his 32nd birthday tomorrow [Saturday] has been at the forefront of development of the best-selling Ford Focus as a Word Rally Car, and currently lies third in the Y2K championship standings after victories in Spain and Greece. Ford occupies second place overall in the manufacturers' championship with six rounds still to run.

''I am totally committed to my goal of winning the championship again,'' the Scot said, ''and I feel that, with the current level on confidence throughout the Ford team, we have a real chance of achieving this. Now that I have signed a contract with Ford for two more years, the whole team can be settled in the knowledge that we will be focusing on winning. We have already achieved a huge amount together with the new Focus, and I am absolutely convinced that, with the engineering resources behind us, there is much more to come.''

McRae had been linked to seats at both Peugeot and Subaru for next season, but opted for another stint at Ford following the opening of impressive new facilities in Cumbria, as well as his recent successes.

''We are delighted that Colin has renewed his commitment to Ford,'' commented the company's European director of racing, Martin Whitaker, ''Today's announcement sends a clear message to our competitors that we are determined to take Ford back to the top of global motorsport. The achievements of Colin and the team at M-Sport have given us a great platform from which to attack the championship in forthcoming years. Our commitment in terms of technical and human resources is unquestioned. This news will be welcomed throughout the company and gives us the best possible driver line-up for the future.''

McRae rejoins Spaniard Carlos Sainz in the M-Sport-run Ford team, which will continue to be run by former driver Malcolm Wilson.

''With today's confirmation that Colin has signed with us for another two years, we see the beginning of a whole new era in Ford motorsport history,'' Wilson said, ''The Focus World Rally Car is already an enormous success in the hands of Colin and Carlos and, if you combine their input with the world-class team facilities which we now have, the stability we can provide and the significant benefits we will gain from integration with Product Development, then I wholeheartedly believe that Ford Racing will become the force to be reckoned with in rallying.''

The next round of the world championship is the Rally Finland on 17-20 August.

[Source: Ford Racing]