Ford Australia will continue its backing of the Ford Performance Racing (FPR) V8 Supercars team for the 2014 season.
Moments before Saturday’s Bathurst 1000 Top 10 qualifying, in which FPR’s Mark Winterbottom qualified second behind Red Bull Racing Australia’s Jamie Whincup, Ford Australia president and CEO Bob Graziano (pictured top middle) confirmed the manufacturer would continue its 11-year backing of the factory racing team into 2014.
“We are pleased to continue our association with FPR,” Graziano said. “We have always had a very strong and positive relationship with the team, its principals and its drivers, and we look forward to building on that.
“Our most important priority right now though is to regain our dominance of the mountain this weekend.”
FPR CEO Tim Edwards (pictured top left) said everyone at the team was very pleased to see the relationship with Ford carry on.
“Having Ford recommit to the team is obviously what we wanted,” Edwards said.
“It has been a busy year for both parties with lots of changes in both of our businesses.
“The continuation means it is simply back to business as usual for everyone.”
The news clearly spurred on the team’s top driver combination with Winterbottom and co-driver Steven Richards taking out the 161-lap, 1000km race at Mount Panorama on Sunday.
The win marked the first time the factory Ford operation has claimed a Bathurst win since Allan Moffat and Jacky Ickx in 1977 and its first podium at the great race since 2004.
The Ford duo took the win ahead of the twin Red Bull Australia teams of Whincup and Paul Dumbrell and third place’s Craig Lowndes and Warren Luff. FPR’s second car steered by Will Davison and Steve Owen finished the day seventh.
Ford Australia is yet to announce any further extension of its V8 Supercars commitment beyond next year, ahead of the Falcon’s planned demise in 2016. The future of Ford Australia’s high-performance division, FPV (Ford Performance Vehicles), also remains under a cloud, with speculation suggesting the brand could be wound up as early as next year.