First MINI, now Ford; both manufacturers have now announced they will pull out of the 2013 World Rally Championship as a factory sponsor. The move is undoubtedly a bad one for the sport, and fans will no doubt see it as Ford turning tail after years of playing bridesmaid to the dominance of Citroen and star driver Sebastian Loeb in both the Manufacturer's and Driver's Championships for years now.
The official statement from the automaker is that it needs to deploy its resources in other areas, Autosport reported. According to Ford of Europe's VP of Marketing, Roelant de Waard, the decision wasn't an easy one as Ford has had a "long and proud history in the WRC."
Ford WRC also made the announcement to the public using Twitter.
M-Sport, the company that prepared the WRC Fiestas for competition, will continue to build them, though it will now count only on private teams as customers. Ford and M-Sport are said to be in negotiations on providing continued vehicle and engineering support.
Some fans see Ford's timing as especially bad, as the dominating nine-time WRC Champion Loeb has announced he won't compete in all rallies in 2013.
Fortunately for the sport, both VW and Hyundai have promised to enter the WRC as factory teams, though 2013 may not be full seasons for either.