Word on the street last year was that Ford Australia execs were reviewing the manufacturers involvement in motorsport, including the holy-grail ? V8 Supercars. At the time, Ford's continued involvement in the premier class of Australian motorsport appeared to be less than guaranteed, however a press-release issued yesterday by Ford Australia confirms that it is committing to an ongoing significant investment in V8 Supercar racing.
Ford's involvement in V8 Supercars will remain the company's single largest sponsorship and category investment. However, Ford will be seeking to leverage its return from this involvement by more closely linking it to Ford's performance car line-up.
"Motorsport is a key part of our brand strength in Australia. The passion it generates amongst performance car enthusiasts is second-to-none, which is why it will continue to be important for our brand going forward. However, as the market diversifies and consumers face an ever-increasing array of vehicle choices, it is imperative that we target our vehicles and accompanying marketing messages in a manner that reflects that diversity," said Ford Australia Marketing & Sales Vice President Mark Winslow.
What this all means is that from 2009 onwards, Ford will target its direct motorsport sponsorship towards two already successful race teams Ford Performance Racing (FPR) and Stone Brothers Racing (SBR). Both of these high profile teams will, it is believed, provide a high level of leveraging opportunities that are considered by Ford to be integral to the performance success of the Ford brand.
"A closer collaboration between Ford Performance Racing and Stone Brothers Racing will have race-win benefits for Ford, while also allowing us to be more involved in the positioning and marketing of the Ford brand in association with those two teams," said Winslow.
Both FPR and SBR will benefit from ongoing sponsorship support from Ford, in addition to closely working with Ford to develop world-class racing packages to ensure the track success of the FG Falcon.
"SBR is renowned for its engine development capability and will continue to play a leading role in ongoing development of the FG race engine. The combined knowledge of both teams can only bring positive results for the Ford brand in the V8 Supercar Championship."
Other currently sponsored Ford teams will also continue to be supported through the transition to racing the FG Falcon with the provision of initial FG race car shells, a crash panel program and ongoing engineering and technical support.
"We look forward to working closely with Craig and other Ford-aligned drivers to link our performance success more closely to our relevant brand communications," said Winslow.
The company's long-standing sponsorship of the Formula Ford Championship will also continue, along with support for other motorsport feeder categories.