Ford Motor Company has announced it will be providing extended technical and financial support to motorsport partner M Sport. Last season the M-Sport Ford Fiesta completed a triumphant victory of both Drivers’ and Manufacturers’ titles in the FIA World Rally Championship.
Starting in 2018, the M-Sport Ford World Rally Team will benefit from additional technical support from the global Ford Performance organisation at Ford’s headquarters in Dearborn, U.S., led by Mark Rushbrook, global director of Motorsport.
Ford is extending the company’s investment to ensure the M-Sport Ford World Rally Team remains competitive through the 2018 WRC season and beyond, following technical and financial contributions in 2017.
This increased backing from Ford is a key driver in M Sport’s retention of Sébastien Ogier – 2017 FIA WRC Drivers’ champion – for the 2018 season. There were initially concerns that the privateer firm would not be able to afford to keep Ogier in the driving seat. The Frenchman will lead the M-Sport World Rally Team for 2018, along with Elfyn Evans.
“Ford’s 20-year relationship with M-Sport has delivered unparalleled success at all levels of rallying, something we’re very proud of, and has also established Fiesta as the standard for rally competitors around the globe,” Rushbrook said. “Last year we supported M-Sport with the development of the all-new Fiesta that went on to campaign to an FIA championship win. For 2018, we’re excited to be able to provide even greater support.”
Ford has been a continuous partner with M-Sport since 1997. As the Ford-appointed specialist in rally-sport, M-Sport produces Ford vehicles for rally competition in several classes, from FIA R2 to the pinnacle in WRC. Almost 400 M-Sport developed Ford Fiestas are currently competing in rally-sport globally.
“We’ve enjoyed a fantastic relationship with Ford over the years and it’s great to see that support increase as we look to defend our FIA World Rally Championship titles in 2018,” said Malcolm Wilson OBE, M-Sport managing director.
“In Sébastien and Elfyn we have another strong line up and the added technical support will allow us to progress the development of the Ford Fiesta WRC. The competition will be closer than ever but I’m confident that, together with the support of our partners, we can produce the same high levels of performance and reliability that delivered so much success in 2017.”
Powered by Ford’s 1.6-litre EcoBoost petrol engine, the Ford Fiesta WRC rally car is based on the all-new Fiesta, on sale across Europe in distinctive versions including the stylish Fiesta Titanium, the Ford Performance-inspired Fiesta ST-Line and the upscale Fiesta Vignale. The all-new Fiesta ST – featuring a 200PS 1.5-litre EcoBoost engine and Drive Modes – goes on sale later this year.