From Ford Press [ 19/11/2006 ].
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New Zealand, November 19, 2006 - The Ford Focus RS World Rally Car 06, which made its Championship debut just over a year ago in Australia, has continued its successful first year in competition by securing the FIA WRC Manufacturers' Championship 2006 for Ford.
With a 25-point lead Ford has secured the Manufacturers' title even though there is still one final WRC round in this year’s competition – Rally GB, 30 November – 3 December.
This is the first time that Ford has won the Manufacturers' Championship in 27 years and represents the pinnacle of achievement since Ford of Europe initiated its partnership with Malcolm Wilson and M-Sport in 1997.
The Focus RS WRC 06 was developed from concept to reality in record time by M-Sport and specialist engineers in Ford TeamRS, the company’s in-house performance car and motorsport division. The entire project was overseen by Christian Loriaux, M-Sport’s Technical Director.
“This Championship victory is the result of a tremendous team effort, and everyone at Ford is proud of what the car and the team have achieved this year,” said John Fleming, President and CEO of Ford of Europe. “To secure the manufacturers' title in our first year of running with an all-new WRC car is more than we had dared hope for, and I would like to pay tribute to everyone involved with the BP-Ford World Rally team.”
“Over the years, I believe the team has developed into one of the best squads in the Motorsport business,” said Jost Capito, Director of Ford TeamRS. “This victory means a great deal to the team, but it is also a huge reward to all of the Ford employees, Ford Motorsport fans and Ford performance vehicle enthusiasts worldwide who have given us amazing support at every event.
“The title would not have been won without the most significant members of the team delivering superb results over and over,” Capito said. “The BP-Ford World Rally Team pairings of Marcus Grönholm and Timo Rautiainen plus Mikko Hirvonen and Jarmo Lehtinen have driven with determination, perseverance and world class ability. We are very proud of them.”
BP-Ford World Rally Team Director Malcolm Wilson commented: “I’m over the moon with this result. As one of the world's leading drivers, Marcus Grönholm was expected to lead Ford's title challenge, and he has done so brilliantly. But few commentators at the start of the season would have expected to see Mikko Hirvonen develop as quickly as he has into one of the WRC’s leading drivers.”