Hoonigan Racing and Ford Performance have confirmed today that they will not be returning to the FIA World Rallycross Championship for the 2018 season.
The decision has been taken to bring an end to the World RX Programme after the final round of the 2017 season, the World RX of South Africa, which takes place next month. The news comes after two seasons with Ken Block and Andreas Bakkerud driving the iconic Ford Focus RS RX Supercar in World RX competition.
Bakkerud gave the Ford Focus a successful first season where he took wins in Norway, Sweden and Argentina whilst Block has been a regular in the Semi-Finals during the 2017 season. Bakkerud holds the record achievement of winning “The Perfect Weekend” in Norway where he scored the maximum two hundred points on offer during a World RX event.
“Both myself and Ford Performance have learned a lot from this program,” said Block. “While we both would like to continue with the effort, it simply doesn’t add up at this point.”
“Aspects of the sport are up in the air for the future, so putting a lot more money into developing a new race car to try to battle for the championship title just doesn’t make sense right now. It’s certainly disappointing, but that’s how the economics of Motorsport go sometimes.”
This news also means that Bakkerud is now without a drive for the 2018 season and this is a prospect that will put the Norwegian driver in high demand in the driver market. Block commented further on having Bakkerud as his team-mate over the last two years.
“As for Andreas, he put in a tremendous effort to try and bring home a title with us. He’s one of the most talented drivers I’ve ever worked with and I’m honoured to have been able to have him as my teammate,” explained Block.
“I’m fully confident that he’s going to be snatched up by one of the other teams in the World RX paddock as soon as the news gets out that he’s available for the 2018 season. I’m looking forward to shipping him a bottle of champagne when he finally brings home a championship for himself.”
“Andreas is absolutely a talented driver, and a class act in the paddock,” added Dave Pericak, Global Director of Ford Performance. “Though we will not be supporting his program next year, we wish the best for him. The team that picks him up will be lucky to have him.”
Whilst the decision has been made to end the current World RX programme, Pericak explained that Rallycross remains on the radar for the American Manufacturer.
“Although we have thoroughly enjoyed competing in the exciting FIA World Rallycross Championship, it’s a natural time for us to take a break as the future of the series takes shape,” said Pericak.
“To continue in WRX would have required the development of a new race car, and with so much discussion happening around the future of Rallycross from a powertrain package standpoint, it made sense for us to pause until it’s better defined. Rest assured, we think Rallycross has a bright future.”
There has also been the confirmation from Ford Performance that the Ford Focus Supercars will not be sold on for further competition and that they will be used for displays and demos only.