Markko Martin’s Ford Focus will offer welcome resistance to Subaru, Citroën, Peugeot and others next year following the announcement that Ford will remain in the WRC in 2004.

Markko Martin’s Ford Focus will offer welcome resistance to Subaru, Citroën, Peugeot and others next year following the announcement that Ford will remain in the WRC in 2004.


It was earlier suggested that Ford might pull out of next year’s lengthened WRC season due to budget constraints. But for next year, Ford will retain overall control of the programme while M-Sport, the British-based team that has handled the Blue Oval's world rallying effort since 1997, will assume larger, day-to-day responsibility in the title bid.


The news will also have the knock-on effect of helping Colin McRae's bid to land the second Subaru drive, as it rules Ford ace Markko Martin out of the equation. Martin seems certain to stay with Ford, alongside young Belgian Francois Duval.


"I'm delighted to confirm that the Blue Oval will be competing in the WRC next season," said Jost Capito, director of Ford Team RS. "We displayed to everyone this year the competitiveness of both the Focus RS World Rally Car and our young drivers. I'm sure we are a strong contender for the title.


M-Sport managing director Malcolm Wilson added: "We will go into next year's championship with a two-car team to win. In Markko Märtin and François Duval we have a strong driver line-up and we have improved the performance of the Ford Focus RS WRC to the point where we can win any rally, on any surface.