To see Mini pulling the plug on their WRC “involvement” was not very suprising, nor disturbing as much as one might think. But oh my, now Ford is following in their footsteps, equally ending their WRC programme come end of this year. Challenging economy and the need to redirect their efforts and cash in more profitable areas were listed as main reasons behind this decision. And not even arrival of Red Bull and the promise of better times in terms of TV and media coverage could do much to persuade Ford to rethink their move.
Even less helpful were those infamous Petter Solberg and Jari-Matti Latvala’s offs, crashes, retirements and wasted victories and points. And all that in a season to which Ford commited in last minute, thanks to efforts by Malcolm Wilson’s M-Sport squad earlier this year.
Details are a bit sketchy at the moment, but from what I understand, Ford will continue working with M-Sport in supporting their customer teams. Does that include M-Sport run team of some kind for 2013, I have no idea.
As the things stand at the moment, we’ll have another season of two manufacturer teams next year (unless I missed something), Citroën and Volkswagen. And when Citroën switches to WTCC, it’s unclear if Peugeot will get to take over WRC programme or not. It’s also unclear when we can expect Hyundai to join, and also what lies in store for Toyota.
Most of all I’m curious on how this move by Ford will be seen in Volkswagen, given the amount of money and time poured into their WRC programme so far, only to end up in crippled championship.
Also interesting would be to hear comments on this matter from Red Bull Media House.
All I can say is – pity.