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Ford Reveals New Partner for Rally Programme

10 January 1999

Ford Motor Companay has announced a major partnership with Martini Racing to support its FIA World Rally Championship programme. The striking livery on the all-new Ford Focus World Rally Car was unveiled for the first time at the Autosport International Show in Birmingham Thursday by lead driver and former World Champion Colin McRae.

The Ford Martini World Rally team will make its debut on the Monte Carlo Rally, the opening round of the 1999 championship, later this month, an event which will also mark the debut of the exciting new Ford Focus WRC in the hands of McRae and co-driver Nicky Grist and team-mates Simon Jean-Joseph and co-driver Fred Gallagher.

Speaking in Birmingham, Martin Whitaker, European director of Ford Racing, said: "The Ford Focus WRC is regarded as the most radical world championship rally car yet built and marks the start of a new era for Ford in rallying. We are delighted that Martini, like Ford, a company with a great rallying tradition, is joining us at the beginning of this era.

"We know that the Ford Focus has the potential to be a winner and in Colin McRae we have the worlds fastest driver. We recognise that 1999 will be a challenging year, but we are confident the Ford Martini World Rally Team will play a major part and will mount a strong World title challenge in 2000," he added.

Martini is the worlds largest wine brand and has a rally heritage which, under the Martini Racing banner, stretches back over 30 years in the sport. Bacardi-Martini director Chris Searle expressed the companys delight on the return of the Martini Racing name to rallying.

"With the launch of the Ford Focus World Rally Car, the time is right for Martini Racing to come back into world rallying," he said. "Martini has always been innovative and we think that this particular opportunity to re-enter the World Rally Championship with the Ford Focus makes it an ideal partnership for Martini Racing."