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Ford pulls out of WRC rallying
Ford has today announced the shock decision to withdraw from the FIA World Rally Championship at the end of the 2012 season.
The stunning news (which reverses last year’s commitment to 2013) means rallying’s top tier will have lost manufacturer support from both BMW (with MINI) and Ford in recent weeks; the news comes on top of nine times WRC champion Sebastian Loeb’s decision to scale back his campaign for 2013.
The withdrawal of Ford deals a serious blow to the under-pressure championship, which has been floundering for several years as interest in it has dwindled. Remarkably, the series hasn’t even had a promoter this year.
Ford’s decision comes against the backdrop of big financial losses for the brand in Europe – all non-essential expenditure is being cut back – but bosses may also privately have been questioning what they were actually getting for their involvement.
“Ford has a long and proud history in the WRC and this was not an easy decision,” said Roelant de Waard, vice president, Marketing, Sales and Service, Ford of Europe.
“At this time, however we determined that it was better for the company and the Ford brand to reduce our commitment to the WRC and deploy our resources in other areas.”
The Ford Fiesta will still be represented in rallying, though. Although Ford is withdrawing as title sponsor, UK-based M-Sport will continue to run WRC Fiestas in 2013.
“We have great respect for M-Sport and Malcolm Wilson, which has run the Ford WRC team since 1997, and there is no organization with more expertise and commitment to winning,” de Waard said.
“Working together, we have reached a point where the Ford Fiesta has become the car of choice in rallying, and we want to see this continue in the future.”
MD of M-Sport Malcolm Wilson said: “I would like to thank Ford of Europe for their enthusiastic support and the faith shown in the team over the past 16 seasons.
“We understand that tough decisions have had to be made and look forward to continuing our strong technical partnership into the future.”
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