M-Sport has no intention to stop WRC Rally1 programme

The team’s future in the WRC was called into question at last weekend’s Acropolis Rally following the publication of an interview with driver Pierre-Louis Loubet in French media that suggested the squad could be absent from next year’s Rally1 field.

The article has since been labelled «fake news» and has been removed.

M-Sport has endured a challenging 2023 campaign which Wilson admits has been a «dreadful year» plagued by misfortune and reliability issues. But the team remains committed to competing in the WRC’s top tier in the future and Wilson believes the operation has the «ingredients» to return to the top.

The Ford squad has matched its victory total of last season courtesy of Ott Tanak’s triumph at Rally Sweden in February.

«We will be doing whatever we can to try and find a way to stay in at the highest level,» Wilson told Motorsport.com.  

«We have a great team of people and we have still got a great car. We have had a dreadful year this year and I don’t know why. I think everyone has these glitches. 

«You only have to look at Formula 1 and where Williams and McLaren were, for example. All the ingredients and the resource is still there to get back to where we need to be.»

Currently competing as a semi-works team with fewer resources compared to Toyota and Hyundai brings challenges every year to secure budgets, but M-Sport has been ever present in rallying’s top tier since 1997.    

Ott Tänak, Martin Järveoja, M-Sport Ford World Rally Team Ford Puma Rally1

Ott Tänak, Martin Järveoja, M-Sport Ford World Rally Team Ford Puma Rally1

Photo by: M-Sport

Last year’s introduction of the Rally1 car has added to the challenge with the FIA openly admitting that costs have far exceeded the intended target. The world motorsport governing body is investigating ways to reduce this figure.

M-Sport’s core business model is based around selling cars to customers and currently, it has sold only two Rally1 cars and only one of those to an active competitor in Jourdan Serderidis. 

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Responding to the speculation surrounding the team’s future, M-Sport team principal Richard Millener added: «I don’t think he [Pierre-Louis] spoke to the guy [the journalist] which is what is confusing me. 

«There are no plans for anything as dramatic as that. I think the fact it’s been taken down shows that the news is certainly not real. It was blown out of context and hopefully, we managed to put a lid on it. 

«There is no denying that there are challenges every year to find the budgets to continue but there is definitely no discussions about stopping at the moment.

«Certainly Malcolm has no intention to stop and me neither. We have 100 people employed for the rally team and there will be every effort to ensure that we are here.

«Yes we don’t know the driver line-ups for next year and our goal at the moment is to keep Ott [Tanak] in the team but that is also a significant undertaking, but we will just keep going to ensure we can achieve the best we can.»

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