Ford Australia has confirmed what fans have feared for some time now, revealing this week that it will end factory V8 Supercar racing support by the end of 2015.
The decision will see Ford scale back its commitment from the start of the 2015 season before backing out completely by the end of the year.
This will also mean an end to the financial and technical support currently given to the Prodrive-operated Ford Performance Racing (FPR) team in a relationship that has existed since 2002. The company also has a parts supply agreement with Dick Johnson Racing (DJR).
In a statement this week, Prodrive boss Tim Edwards said the decision is “extremely disappointing”.
"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.
FPR will run the racing version of the recently launched FG X Falcon in 2015 as planned.
Beyond that, Mr Edwards would say only that the team will “possibly” continue to race Falcons in 2016 before focusing on the opportunities presented with new V8 Supercar regulations due in 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,” he said.
The news is not entirely unexpected, with Ford confirming last year that it will exit Australian manufacturing by October 2016.
V8 Supercars chief James Warburton echoed Edwards’ sentiments, describing the announcement as “disappointing for fans who have so passionately supported the brand for so many years”.
“The good news for our fans is that there will still be six Falcons on the grid in 2015,” he said.
"With many of our teams being privateers, with no factory support, we are confident that there will be Fords on the grid in 2016 and beyond.”
Ford Australia spokesperson Wes Sherwood said the decision did not come easily.
“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.
Fans had hoped that coming changes to the V8 Supercar rules - which could also see Lexus campaign its new RC Coupe - would motivate Ford to enter the coming new Mustang coupe in the series.
A local racing program would arguably be the ideal marketing ticket for the new Mustang, but it appears Ford will focus its advertising dollars on other avenues.
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