Ford of Europe has introduced an exciting new look for its 2008 FIA World Rally Championship campaign. The Focus RS World Rally Car, which powered Ford to the manufacturers’ world title in both 2006 and 2007, sports a striking modern livery while the squad will be named the BP Ford Abu Dhabi World Rally Team for 2008.
The team also boasts a new driver line-up for the 15-round series. Mikko Hirvonen and co-driver Jarmo Lehtinen have been joined in the squad by fellow Finns Jari-Matti Latvala and Miikka Anttila, while Khalid Al Qassimi and Michael Orr have a 10-round programme in a third works Focus RS WRC.
Ford of Europe’s entire motorsport programme has moved under the control of new motorsport director, Mark Deans but team director Malcolm Wilson will continue to run the programme on a day-to-day basis through long-term partner M-Sport.
"The Focus RS WRC has a new, contemporary livery which blends perfectly with the outlook of the BP Ford Abu Dhabi World Rally Team," explained Deans. "This is our first full season in partnership with BP and the Abu Dhabi Tourism Authority and their importance to our WRC programme is reflected in the team’s new name and their prominence on the car.
"Of course, there is far more to a successful WRC campaign than the colour of the car and the name of the team. But since I took up my new role as motorsport director I have seen enough to convince me that we are again capable of being fully competitive in 2008. We have a dynamic, young driver line-up supported by one of the most enthusiastic and hard-working teams in motorsport at M-Sport and I look forward to a year that I’m confident will be a successful one," he added.
This is M-Sport’s 12th season as Ford’s partner in the WRC and Wilson is excited by the prospects for 2008. "In Mikko and Jari-Matti we have two young drivers who are hungry for competition but also have experience that belies their years and I’m looking forward to watching them develop further during the season. Abu Dhabi’s Khalid Al Qassimi has a comprehensive programme of 10 events in a third Focus RS WRC and I hope to see him gain further in both experience and confidence during the year," added Wilson.