Green light for Ford in the 2009 WRC:

The BP Ford Abu Dhabi World Rally Team will contest the 2009 World Rally Championship with its current driver line-up of Mikko Hirvonen, Jari-Matti Latvala and Khalid Al Qassimi.

Ford of Europe motorsport director Mark Deans confirmed the programme on Wednesday night at a team function before Wales Rally GB.

Deans said: “The WRC is important to Ford. It’s almost part of our DNA. Competing In motorsport - particularly in rallying - is still the toughest test for a production car. The Focus has demonstrated just how great a car it is, and even in these difficult times it’s important to continue to promote it and demonstrate its capabilities.”

Deans added that the planned cost cutting measures in the WRC and the appointment of a series promoter had been important factors in the decision.

Foto: Focusmania.com - Links Malcolm Wilson, rechts Mark Deans, Ford motorsport director.

“We said all the way through the year that the two things we need for the sport are a global promoter, so we get improved value for money, and that the costs of participation were brought down. The FIA has put the tender out for the promoter so there will be an appointment made for that, and we hope the decision regarding the new technical formula for WRC cars will bring the costs down. So, while there’s still a long way to go, and there are still areas we’d like to see cost savings in, it’s heading in the right direction. That is a big positive for us. We’ll continue to analyse things throughout next season and hopefully we’ll continue to see more cost progress and more promotion of the championship.”

Team director Malcolm Wilson, whose M-sport company runs Ford’s WRC programme, said the decision was great news for everybody at the team’s base in Cumbria and that he was looking forward to the challenge of 2009.

“To be in Ireland next year is a significant step and shows how important the WRC to Ford,” he said. “At M-Sport we’re very privileged to continue with the programme - especially considering the difficult economic conditions. I think it’s a real vote of confidence in the WRC and in M-Sport.”

Wilson said the team’s driver line-up for 2009 would be no great surprise. “It’s pretty obvious who we’re going to use next year - we feel we’ve got two of the best potential drivers for the future in Mikko and Jari-Matti,” he said. “They’ve both proved they can win rallies, they’ve had a difficult year this year but they’ve learned a considerable amount. Also joining the team again next year will be Khalid - so on the majority of events we will have three BP Ford Abu Dhabi WRC cars. Going into next year I feel we can definitely challenge for both titles.”

Ford motorsport director Mark Deans made the announcement.

Bron: wrc.com

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