Bigger, More Prominent Role For Ford In WRC Highly Unlikely: Exclusive

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Hopes that Ford might soon return to the FIA World Rally Championship (WRC) in a works capacity have been dashed due to the coronavirus pandemic, according to M-Sport’s new Team Principal, Richard Millener.

Ford withdrew from the WRC at the end of the 2012 season but has continued to offer its support and technical expertise to help develop the last two iterations of the race-going Ford Fiesta RS. The Blue Oval is also supporting M-Sport as it readies its new hybrid-powered car in time for the 2022 season.

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In a recent interview, Millener confirmed that the project is currently progressing “very well” and that his engineers are confident of having a test mule operational at Dovenby Hall by the start of January.

The new car will be powered by the same turbocharged 1.6L EcoBoost engine as the current Fiesta RS World Rally Car. The boosted four-banger will be paired to a hybrid energy recovery system supplied by Compact Dynamics of Germany.

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Some have wondered whether efforts to bring the World Rally Championship to the United States for the first time since the late eighties would lead to a rethink amongst top Ford leadership about the automaker’s return to the series in a more prominent role. Millener insists, however, that there is unlikely to be any movement.

“Ford coming back as a bigger partner? I don’t think that is going to happen,” he said. “I think the level [of support] we are at now is the best that it’s been for a long time. Where we are with the current global situation, to expect to find bigger budgets to go and do motorsport is very difficult.”

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“There is going to be a twenty four month period of trying to get back to where things were pre-pandemic, so it would be unrealistic to expect anything else [from Ford]. Our goal is to keep the current level of partnership we have and use that to be able to go forward and compete in 2022.”

Millener stressed the importance of the WRC heading to America and the need to see tangible change by next year at the very latest.

“A lot of our funding and technical support for the new car comes from Ford of America – they are our key partner and that is why it is so important we go to America,” he explained. “We are pushing the FIA and Promoter to make sure that goes ahead.”

“We need to see something next year, even if it is just a candidate event, a roadshow or whatever. We are pushing hard on that. The USA is important for us at this moment. There is a big push from Ford, it’s important for them to have an event in North America. We have established events in South America which is great but North America’s the home of Ford. That’s where we need to be.”

“We have made that very clear to the WRC Promoter and they have started to look at options for that but, unfortunately, coronavirus stopped the progress we were making. However, we are still talking in the background with people over in the States to try and get that moving again because we need to see that [a round in the US] as an achievable target in the next two years, maximum.”

We’ll have more as it happens, to be sure to subscribe to Ford Authority for more Ford motorsports news plus around-the-clock Ford news coverage.

  • By Jason Craig for Ford Authority

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One Comment

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  1. Let’s actually look at the actual truth of the matter here. Here is an auto manufacturer that has just gotten rid of all of it’s cars, how does anyone expect a car company without CARS to be in Rally besides just a support team? Quoting from the article the line, ” Where we are with the current global situation, to expect to find bigger budgets to go and do motorsport is very difficult.”, while that may be true with the current COVID situation, that’s only part of the true issue with Ford. Ford, like so many other companies out there, hasn’t really made good vehicles post-2004, mustang included. while Ford’s mustang may lead the pony car segment most of the time like the F150 does with the truck segment, nearly everything Ford makes is plagued with recalls and so many other quality issues that makes buying their cars not worth it, plus they are way overpriced (as nearly everything in the auto industry is). As it stands, the best American car company out there isn’t even owned by an American car company and that is Dodge. Not FCA just straight Dodge. Now before anyone labels me as a Dodge fan, I’m actually very passionate about all three American Auto manufacturers but Dodge was the smartest. They said, “you know what, all of our vehicles except the Challenger, Charger and Durango are absolute P.O.S. Lets get rid of everything else and sell what works, American Muscle, which is why Dodge is kicking butt and their strategy works, Chrysler is dying because Chrysler is boring, Jeep is doing pretty well but they need to trim a lot of fat and just go with the Wrangler, the Gladiator, the Grand Cherokee and the upcoming Wagoneer/Grand Wagoneer and that be it. Once Ram Trucks gets on board and gets a Dakota back, Ford is going to get it’s @** handed to it.
    Now I understand Ford can not follow the exact same path as Dodge as Ford has not had a muscle car in the united states since 1972 when the last real Torino rolled off the assembly line. Ford does it’s best work with small engines and Ford has truly done it’s best work overseas in Europe and Australia, where most American’s have no clue about what Ford performance is truly all about. Ford Europe had amazing cars such as the Cosworth Escort, Sierra RS500, Cosworth Capri RS, Ford RS200, and of course the Aussie Ford Falcon, which made just as much hp and more torque with a straight-6 turbo than the american mustang made with the gen 2 coyote 5.0L V8. Even the real Ford Focus RS had a nasty sounding 5-cylinder turbo. Now I’m not saying that Ford doesn’t have good stuff going right now but they won’t put their good stuff together. Instead of being stuck in the 60’s with the Mustang, why not let it go or let it just be the Mach E family of vehicles and just go electric? If Ford is so set on Globalization, why not go with the cars that were sold more around the globe than just the ones that were sold here in the states? We’ve already seen that the CD6 chassis is a very great performer with the new Explorer ST and it’s modular so it can be used in several different applications. As I’ve mentioned, Ford has several successful non V8 performance platforms such as the Ecoboost family of engines, the Barra family of engines and even the previous Duratec family of engines (the 2.5L Turbo-5 from the MK2 focus RS). A CD6 platform FR-AWD Falcon sedan & Capri 3-door and 5-door hatchback, a Front engine FWD based AWD Sierra and Escort models, and the Explorer would do ford a lot of good with the Ecoboost engines. A mid engine RS200 sports car to do battle with the likes of whatever the mid-engine sports car from Hyundai will be. Yes of course there would be the pedestrian models of most of these vehicles but these would not only be street and performance street models, they would also be the new faces of Ford Performance in racing in not only drag racing but rally and everything else. Cars aren’t the problem, boring, problematic, overpriced vehicles are why Ford was doing so poorly in the American car segment. In this lineup, the electric Mustang Mach-E makes alot more sense as the nameplate can now pioneer a new segment of vehicles in the performance electric crossover market and Ford can have something to compete with Telsa with (if they do it right). Ford could even bring back the C-max as the small electric car and go to town with electric vehicles. What I would hope for would be that Ford would change the name of the super Duty to the Atlas and Tremor and do them all electric and compete with the new Hummer pickup. That would be awesome! Keep upgrading the F150 but instead of the Coyote, bring a Barra 4.0L Turbo I-6 and drop that under the hood and mate that to a hybrid setup and bring back the Straight-6 trucks. Upgrade the Ranger and give it more of a squared off truck look like the Bronco (with modern cues) and Ford’s lineup would be on point. Make the Transit and Transit Connect all electric and make all of those models global and call it a day. Ford would be able to fire on all points with a lineup like this, a global lineup with desirable pedestrian and performance vehicles, a perfect truck lineup, smaller displacement engines with hybrid technology for better performance and emissions, a lineup of electric vehicles which shrinks the carbon footprint, race vehicles and commercial vehicles. If ford wants to “focus on what they are good at” this would be it. Another thing to do would be to drop the Lincoln lineup and just introduce the Ford Vignale trim package globally as the top of the line package, putting all of the Lincoln equipment on the ford badged vehicles which keeps Lincoln from just being a bunch of re-badged Fords and have the Black label as the top tier Vignale trim. With all of that, Ford can drop pointless vehicles like the edge, the escape, the ecosport, and alot of other FWD cars. All in all ford would have the CD6 platform, an electric platform, the Ranger/Bronco platform, the F150 platform, a new fully electric Super Duty platform and the transit/commercial electric platform. take that, go global and call it a day.

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