The Blue Oval may have ended its Formula One programme, but it will remain in the WRC for at least four more years – a tremendous fillip for the team that has won the last two rallies.

The Blue Oval may have ended its Formula One programme, but it will remain in the WRC for at least four more years – a tremendous fillip for the team that has won the last two rallies.


The World Rally Championship will spearhead Ford’s motorsport activities for the foreseeable future. British Based M-Sport, which has run the works team since 1997 under the leadership of Malcolm Wilson, will remain in its current role.


Ford will continue to use the existing Focus RS 04 WRC next year, while a new Focus RS – based on the new road-going version of the car, which will be available early in 2005 – will be adopted from 2006 onwards. Ford of Europe on Wednesday revealed what the new generation Ford Focus RS WRC could look like.


The Focus 2006 RS WRC concept shares some design cues with its the existing car. The standard road car's prominent wheelarches are matched to a full-width front spoiler and massive bonnet air vents. Also note the roof-mounted air scoop, characteristic rear spoiler and acute rear screen angle.


No announcement has yet been made on who will drive the cars in either 2005 or 2006, although it can be expected that the current driver, Rally Corsica and Rally Catalunya winner Markko Martin, will be at the top of M-Sport’s wish list. Belgian Francois Duval and Finn Jani Paasonen are also possible candidates.


“Ford’s long-term commitment to the WRC will provide a great boost to the sport,” said director of Ford Team RS Jost Capito. “There is a strong business case for Ford’s continued involvement. The proposals from the FIA to reduce the costs of competing in the WRC, via revisions to the regulations, convinced us to continue long-term.


“Since 1997, we have worked closely with M-Sport to develop a world-class rally team operating from world-class facilities at Malcolm Wilson’s Dovenby Hall premises. We believe that the infrastructure is now in place for us to move forward and build a team capable of bringing world titles to Ford.”


Ford also announced that the construction and development of its Junior World Rally Championship contender - the Ford Fiesta Super 1600 - would be transferred to M-Sport to establish the team as The Blue Oval's centre for international rallying.