by clicking the arrows at the side of the page, or by using the toolbar.
by clicking anywhere on the page.
by dragging the page around when zoomed in.
by clicking anywhere on the page when zoomed in.
web sites or send emails by clicking on hyperlinks.
Email this page to a friend
Search this issue
Index - jump to page or section
Archive - view past issues
GP Week : Issue 172
RALLY >>> NEWS FORD PULLS FACTORY SUPPORT ... Ford of Europe announced last week that it will prematurely withdraw from the WRC at the end of 2012, notwithstanding an earlier agreement that M-Sport will continue to run their championship team in 2013. As things stood, Ford had no driver agreements into 2013, and there were already strong suggestions that their number one driver Jari-Matti Latvala would not seek to renew his contract but move at the end of the season to VW. Discussions are continuing between M-Sport and Ford to discuss the next steps forward. M-Sport are heavily involved in RRC and R2 programmes and the R5 project is developing strongly. Currently the company runs a vibrant World Rally Car support programme for private teams and for the past two seasons have run the Fiesta R2 cars for the WRC Academy, an arrangement not yet confirmed for 2013. The independent M-Sport company in Cumbria have run Ford’s official WRC programme since 1997, during which time they have twice won the manufacturers’ championship and Ford cars have won 52 world rallies. They were first invited to run the official Ford team after a remarkable effort on the 1996 Neste 1000 Lakes Rally when the M-Sport private cars driven by Harri Rovanpera and Jarmo Kytolehto led the official Ford entries for a considerable part of the event. This news followed the statement from BMW three days earlier, that they would cease financial support for the Mini John Cooper Works WRC programme. The only remaining official manufacturer support for the WRC in 2013 will thus come from Citroen and VW. These announcements mean that for the first time since the series started no official WRC teams will be run out of Britain. Two days after Ford announced the impending end of their world championship campaign, Volkswagen confirmed that Jari-Matti Latvala will join their team from the start of the 2013 season. Latvala had said at Rallye de France earlier this month that he had two future career options; stay at Ford or go to Volkswagen, and rally protocol dictated his decision would not be announced until the end of the final 2012 round, Catalunya in mid-November. Ford’s withdrawal from the WRC has enabled VW to clinch the deal earlier than expected, and also announce a driver change during the currency of an existing contract. Latvala is particularly well known to VW Motorsport Director Jost Capito. When Capito held a similar position at Ford (2006 and 2007, the years when Ford won the FIA WRC manufacturers’ titles) Latvala was driving for Ford’s subsidiary Stobart team, with whom he gained his first podium result in the WRC, in Ireland 2007. Volkswagen’s strategy for running a Junior driver in the WRC is still not known, beyond a confirmation that in some events the team will run three World Rally Cars. Latvala will run alongside Sebastien Ogier, who this year has enjoyed a remarkably successful season in the WRC driving for VW Motorsport using Skoda Fabia S2000 cars. The Ogier-Latvala team will present a strong challenge to Citroen, who will be their championship rivals in 2013. Both 28 year-old Ogier and 27 year-old Latvala have scored seven world rally wins. Nothing has been announced by VW about the length of Latvala’s agreement, but it is assumed this is a multi-year appointment. What has been confirmed is that there will be no ‘Number One’ driver for the VW WRC team next year. In the same way that Citroen have made a similar declaration that the competition number one on the car which Hirvonen is expected to carry next year will not indicate superior status in the team, VW plan the same situation. (Citroen however have still to declare which drivers will run in their team alongside Mikko Hirvonen and occasional appearances from Sebastien Loeb, and under what arrangement). A VW spokesman stated that an announcement about a Junior driver is expected soon, and there is also widespread assumption that this will focus on 23 year old Andreas Mikkelsen. ... Latvala goes to VW 15 GPWEEK.com // 15 GPWEEK.com // PARTNERS: