Ford pulls out of World Rally Championship
Ford is withdrawing its title sponsorship of M-Sport's World Rally Championship team at the end of the season, following MINI's decision last week to quit its involvement in the series.
The news comes after achieving 208 podium finishes, 52 wins and two world titles from 156 consecutive events since 1997, when M-Sport took responsibility of Ford's WRC campaign. This leaves the Cumbria-based motor sport firm supporting vehicles throughout the 2013 season.
The championship has struggled to find new competitors due to high participation costs and a lack of mainstream coverage, with no official promoter overshadowing much of the 2012 season, which would have no doubt contributed to Ford's decision to pull out.
Roelant de Waard, vice president, Marketing, Sales and Service, Ford of Europe said: "Ford has a long and proud history in the WRC and this was not an easy decision but it was better for Ford to reduce our commitment to the WRC and deploy our resources in other areas."
M-Sport managing director Malcolm Wilson commented: "We will continue to push to secure stage wins on the forthcoming events, ready for the 2013 season".
MINI 's announcement that it was cutting factory funding for Banbury motor sport firm Prodrive, responsible for the MINI John Cooper Works WRC, is yet another blow.
A lack of funds forced Prodrive to drop British driver Kris Meeke at the start of the 2012 season, physically selling his seat to fund the team. Meeke, who had spent months developing the car with Prodrive, tweeted: "Ever wonder what it would be like to have the girl you loved tell you she is leaving you to go work as a prostitute?"
Pressure is on new official promoter Red Bull to increase the media coverage of the championship, bringing much needed sponsorship funding for the remaining teams.