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  Home > Teams > Past WRC teams > Ford > M-Sport
Ford has subcontracted their World Rally Championship activities to M-Sport. They design, build and service the cars, hire drivers, engineers and technicians, etc. M-Sport is latest in the long line of Ford's indecisiveness about how to organise their WRC involvement and follows Boreham and RAS years.

M-Sport is owned by Malcolm Wilson and his wife Elaine and was founded when Ford awarded the contract to Wilson to keep Ford works team separate from Malcolm Wilson Motorsport. This happened at the end of 1996, just few months before the start of the new season.

It was small miracle that Malcolm was able to form a team, design new Escort WRC, build cars for competition and get all the equipment in time for Monte Carlo 1997. Arriving to the event, he admitted that "it has been pretty fraught last two weeks", referring to huge pressure not to miss the first event and still be competitive. A respectable achievement.

Malcolm Wilson Motorsport
The story began long time before that, in 1979. By that time young Wilson was already two-time national champion but was in need of a team when Thomas Motors, team that had employed him, collapsed. Instead of trying to find a new team, Malcolm formed his own and so Malcolm Wilson Motorsport was born.

While this business expanded, Malcolm himself remained above all a driver and high point of his career came when he was driver at Austin Rover team with MG Metro 6R4 supercar. He did achieve better results with Vauxhall and Ford later but began to concentrate more and more on Malcolm Wilson Motorsport than sole driving.

By 1995, MWM had programmes with four national champions: Mohammed bin Sulayem (Middle-East), Fernando Peres (Portugal), Leonidas Kirkos (Greece) and Gianfranco Cunico (Italy). It was no wonder that MWM began to gain status within Ford and was amongst the biggest customers of Ford's performance department.

New page turns
It seems that Martin Whitaker, new Ford Motorsport Director (Europe) was the driving force behind move from RAS to M-Sport. Risk was huge as contract with M-Sport involved not only running Escort for two years but also design and development of the new car for 1999 season. And as we know, that car became to be Focus WRC.

Two first years were more or less mediocre, Escort won twice in 1997 and not once in 1998. It was not lack of trying but car was getting old, team was small and spread thin. As Kankkunen noted many times during 1998, "old war horse" was somewhat strained in it's final days.

With Focus everything changed. Superstar Colin was signed to the team with record salary and high hopes seemed to be rewarded when car won it's only third event. Rest of the 1999 season was one major disaster of technical failures and driver errors but Ford kept their faith with the team, perhaps surprisingly. After Toyota quit WRC at the end of 1999, M-Sport took advantage of that and recruited people from there. Carlos Sainz and engineer Gerd Pfeiffer were two most notable ones.

Early difficulties were solved and Focus quickly gained repuation as the most reliable and solid of cars competing in WRC. Reliability and strong driver line-up was not enough and team missed both titles narrowly year after year. Direction changed at the arrival of new engineer Christian Loriaux and when Ford did not re-sign neither Colin nor Carlos.

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Related links
M-Sport website