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FORD has officially agreed to increased technical and financial support for British team M-Sport’s defence of its FIA World Rally Championship manufacturers’ title in 2018.

PHOTO: The new-look 2018 Ford Fiesta WRC from M-Sport Ford World Rally Team.

The re-named M-Sport Ford World Rally Team led by Malcolm Wilson will receive technical support from the global Ford Performance organisation at Ford’s headquarters in Dearborn, Michigan.

Ford Performance global director of motorsport Mark Rushbrook announced the deal on Thursday during the official WRC season launch at the Autosport International show in Birmingham.

The car maker’s increased stake was revealed unofficially just before Christmas when it registered as a WRC manufacturer with the Federation Internationale de l’Automobile alongside Toyota, Citroen and Hyundai.

Ford withdrew as a WRC manufacturer entrant after the 2012 season, but has continued to supply technical support to the British team. Sébastien Ogier won his fifth drivers’ title after moving to M-Sport in 2017, but had made clear greater involvement from Ford was key to him re-signing for this season.

Ogier and upcoming talent Elfyn Evans will lead the team, alongside their respective co-drivers Julien Ingrassia and Daniel Barritt, in the Ford Fiesta WRC.

“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,” Malcolm Wilson said.

“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.”

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Chris Nixon

Chris Nixon is Media Manager for Kennards Hire Rally Australia.

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