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.