Sandwiched between iPhone case announcements and talk of wins at the next rally, Ford Rally posted a simple declaration to its Twitter account: "Ford will withdraw from @OfficialWRC as title sponsor after 2012. #FordWRC thanks its fans, drivers and many partners for their support."
Ford of Europe's vice president of marketing, sales, and service, Roelant de Waard, said of the decision to withdraw from WRC, "Ford has a long and proud history in the WRC and this was not an easy decision. We have great respect for M-Sport and Malcolm Wilson, who have run the Ford WRC team since 1997, and there is no organisation with more expertise and commitment to winning. Working together, we have reached a point where the Ford Fiesta has become the car of choice in rallying, and we want to see this continue in the future."
For fans of rallying Fords, however, all is not lost: M-Sport will continue in the WRC. The race team also shed some additional light on the decision in its statement from managing director Malcolm Wilson. "We understand that tough decisions have had to be made to safeguard Ford jobs, we accept the commercial reality of the situation and look forward to continuing our strong technical partnership into the future," said Wilson in the statement. "My intention is that we will continue to push to secure stage wins and overall results on the forthcoming events for Ford and to push forward with the development work that was started in March this year to improve and refine the Fiesta WRC even further, ready for the 2013 season."
Since 1997, M-Sport and Ford have teamed for 208 podium finishes, 156 consecutive scoring events, and 52 wins in 225 starts--despite doing much of it during the dominance of Sebastian Loeb and Citroën.
Ford's withdrawal joins MINI's, announced last week, leaving many wondering about the health--and the future--of WRC as a whole.