Just days ago we let you know that Mini pretty much used FIA homologation rules to its advantage by finishing up the 2012 season and calling it quits, now another manufacturer is following suit. There have been rumors floating around since 2011 that Ford Europe was going to pull out of the World Rally Championship and that will become a reality following the 2012 season, as Ford Europe announced that it will pull its sponsorship following the 2012 season.
Unlike Mini , Ford has been a long-running sponsor, lasting 16 seasons. With that long of a history, it is more obvious that Ford’s pull out is mostly due to the crumbling automotive market in Europe. Despite pulling its sponsorship, Ford will provide M-Sport, its WRC partner since 1997, with the Fiesta R5 rally car , along with engineering and vehicle support following its departure. In addition, Ford Europe will still offer the Fiesta R2 rally car for grass-roots national and regional driver programs.
It looks like we are in for a drastically changed lineup for the 2013 WRC season, and we’re not even through the 2012 season yet. Hopefully no more manufacturers pull out this year.
Click past the jump to read Ford’s official press release.
gallery: Ford Fiesta RS WRC
Ford Withdrawing As WRC Title Sponsor After 2012
COLOGNE, Germany — 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, 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.”
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.”