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Ford to leave V8 Supercars

Bye bye blue: After a relationship with Australian touring cars which has spanned decades on and off, plus backing of the Ford Performance Racing team since 2003, Ford has announced it will leave V8 Supercars.

As the final Falcon goes on sale Ford has announced it will pull out of V8 Supercars

2 Dec 2014

FORD has announced it will leave V8 Supercars at the end of the 2015 season, forcing its own factory team to look to other car-makers to secure its future.

The Blue Oval currently provides major financial and technical support to the Ford Performance Racing team (FPR), however, this will be scaled back next year before being cut altogether in 2016.

In a statement, Ford Australia communications and public affairs director Wes Sherwood said the company is proud of its involvement in V8 Supercars and the decision to pull out was a difficult one.

“Ford is transforming our entire business – from our product line-up to the consumer experience – with major investments that meant we had to make difficult decisions such as not renewing our V8 Supercars teams’ sponsorships after the 2015 season,” he said.

“We will provide technical support to teams racing Ford Falcons in 2015 but will not renew our sponsorships after the season. We are proud of the teams and our history in the series but have made this decision so we can move forward by focusing our attention on our great products and consumer experience.”

FPR has been Ford’s primary manufacturer team since its creation in 2003 and it was managed by parent company Prodrive Racing Australia until early last year when it was sold to motorsport identities Rod Nash and Rusty French.

The team has campaigned two Ford-backed FG Falcons this year driven by Mark Winterbottom and up-and-coming young star Chaz Mostert.

The team has won the Bathurst 1000 endurance race for the past two years with Winterbottom standing on the top step of the podium in 2013 with his co-driver Steven Richards and Mostert repeating the feat this year alongside co-driver Paul Morris.

Prodrive Racing Australia chief executive officer Tim Edwards said Ford’s decision to end its support is disappointing for the team and its fans, but said it opened the door for future agreements.

“Ford Australia’s decision to not extend its commercial relationship with our team beyond the end of next season is extremely disappointing for our large and loyal fan base, but as a business this decision now allows us to concentrate on our long-term future,” he said.

“We have enjoyed a highly successful relationship with Ford Australia with just shy of 50 race wins, 150 podiums and the last two Bathurst 1000 crowns together.

“This on-track success, along with the engineering and commercial strength that underpins our racing activities, provides us with a very viable business and a strong platform for our future in the sport.

Mr Edwards said there was a chance the team could continue in 2016 without Ford's support, but that it would also seek other opportunities with different manufacturers.

“We will run the new FG X Falcon next season as planned with support from Ford, and we’ll possibly campaign the car in 2016 ahead of the major regulation changes coming from 2017.

“Now that we know where we stand we can further develop other opportunities. We have a range of options, some existing and some that were awaiting this decision, so we can now begin to explore these further.

“Whatever happens, I know our loyal fans will support our team whatever direction we take.”

Prodrive Racing Australia is now understood to be looking to sign an agreement with another car-maker.

The current 25-car V8 Supercars grid is made up of 10 Holden VF Commodores, six FG Falcons, four Nissan Altimas, three Mercedes-Benz E63 AMGs and two Volvo S60s.

General Motors Holden current provides factory backing to the Holden Racing Team and Red Bull Racing, with two-year contracts signed this year.

A major change will take place to Australia’s top-flight motorsport category in 2017 with V8 Supercars allowing different engines and body shapes. Under current regulations all teams must use a four-door sedan with a control chassis, and it must be powered by a V8 engine.

The news of Ford’s decision to leave V8 Supercars came the day that the final locally built Falcon – dubbed FG X – goes on sale in Australia, ahead of the closure of the company's manufacturing operations in late 2016.

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