Five-time world rally champion Sebastien Ogier will soon decide whether he remains with M-Sport or retires from the World Rally Championship.
M-Sport won the Manufacturers’ and Drivers’ titles in this year’s WRC, clinching both on Wales Rally GB where Welsh ace Elfyn Evans (Ford Fiesta WRC) won the event to make it a memorable season for Ford and M-Sport. It’s no secret Citroen wanted Ogier to rejoin them - he left the French outfit in 2011.
And as the decision is awaited, Corkman Gerard Quinn, Head of Ford Performance Europe, is central to the negotiations.
Quinn, who lives in Macroom said, “Yes I am involved in the negotiations to sign Seb (Sebastien Ogier) for 2018 and beyond. I’m optimistic about a positive outcome.”
Although Ford pulled factory support from the WRC in 2012, they didn’t sever their ties as Quinn explained: “That (2012) WRC season was a difficult one. About halfway through that season, I knew that there would be no Ford World Rally Team participation in the 2013 WRC season. I had to dig deep to keep the team motivated to fight for what was to be our last championship bid for a while. Keeping news of our withdrawal under wraps was extremely difficult as I knew the devastating consequences it would have.”
He added. “The European region was going through a major financial crisis that impacted heavily on the automotive industry. It was a tough decision, but the right one to cease our participation in WRC considering the tough financial challenges to our company. Much of the team I had within Ford to manage our motorsports operation were redeployed. I continued with limited resources but still managed continued involvement in rally, rallycross, single-seat racing and our motorsports projects with Ken Block.”
For over a decade Quinn has been responsible for managing the Ford/M-Sport partnership. “In 2015 I initiated work with M-Sport on the development of the current Fiesta WRC. My role was critical in building a compelling business case for Ford to increase its investment and to fully fund the development of the all new Fiesta WRC17.”
The Parts for Cars Irish Rallycross Championship concludes at Mondello Park on Sunday with all but one of the class titles still to be decided. In the Supercar category, champion Derek Tohill (Fiesta) is hot favourite to take the title with Noel Greene (Mitsubishi) his main challenger. Tthis weekend’s Carbery Navigation Trial is based in Leap at the headquarters of the Kilmacabea GAA club. The 85-mile event is round two of the Munster Navigation Trial and the final round of the Carbery Plastics Skibbereen and District Car Club Championship. Last year’s event winners Ovens ace Owen Murphy and his Togher navigator Daire Hayes can expect plenty of opposition particularly from their fellow Cork crews.
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