Ford of Europe today announced that it will withdraw from the FIA World Rally Championship as a title sponsor after the 2012 season.
The company said it made the decision as part of a review of its European business in the current difficult economic environment.
“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.”
Ford’s long-term rallying partner, UK-based M-Sport, plans to continue competing in WRC with the Fiesta. Ford is in discussions with M-Sport to provide continued vehicle and engineering support, including for the recently announced Fiesta R5 for the new-for-2013 WRC-2 series, and the Fiesta R2 for grass-roots national and regional driver programmes.
“We have great respect for M-Sport and Malcolm Wilson, who have 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.”
Ford also said it wished to thank its rallying fans, drivers, the FIA, and its many WRC partners, including team main sponsors BP and Castrol, for their support and commitment.
Said Malcolm Wilson, managing director of M-Sport: “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.”