Ford will take its support of M-Sport’s World Rally Championship programme “up another level” in 2018, says its new motorsport chief.
Malcolm Wilson’s M-Sport continued to run Ford’s WRC programme independently after the firm ended its full factory effort at the end of 2012, and last year won the manufacturers’ title as well as taking Sebastien Ogier to the drivers’ crown.
Ogier made clear that getting Ford more involved was vital if M-Sport was to remain competitive against the full works programmes from Hyundai, Toyota and Citroen, and shortly before Christmas it was confirmed that Ford would play a bigger role in 2018.
Mark Rushbrook, who took over as head of motorsport arm Ford Performance late last year, said during the 2018 WRC launch at Autosport International that Ford would assist M-Sport with all aspects of the Fiesta’s development this year.
“We’ve had a great partnership with M-Sport for over 20 years now and we were here to help them with the homologation of the car in 2017,” said Rushbrook.
“It was a great partnership and we were very happy with what was accomplished.
“But the technical support for 2018 will increase in all areas – engine development, aerodynamics, chassis work as well.
“We’re definitely looking forward to helping keep Malcolm and the M-Sport team at the front.
“For 2018 we want to take it all up another level. We’ve got global resources from a company that can really help keep this car going faster and faster every weekend.”
Rushbrook said he would be going to M-Sport’s base in Cumbria after the WRC launch to “go through a lot of the technical project” ahead of the 2018 opener in Monte Carlo.
Ogier is joined in M-Sport’s main line-up for this year by Rally GB winner Elfyn Evans, who is brought back into the primary squad from the now-ended DMACK programme in place of Toyota-bound Ott Tanak.