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Friday, 25 April 2014

Deal for Cumbria-based motorsport team saves 100 jobs

Malcolm Wilson today revealed the new deal to keep his motorsport team in the World Rally Championship has saved 100 jobs – but he will still be forced to make nearly 20 redundancies.

Malcolm Wilson photo
Malcolm Wilson

Wilson, who employs more than 200 staff at his M-Sport headquarters at Dovenby Hall, near Cockermouth, has managed to stave off major job losses after Ford announced it was withdrawing its funding due to the global economic crisis.

The Cumbrian rallying legend this week announced a new deal with the State of Qatar, which will see the oil-rich Middle Eastern country financially back his team to enable them to run three Ford Fiesta RS cars in the WRC for next season.

The move has saved 100 jobs at M-Sport, although Wilson will be forced to cut around 15-18 jobs at his state-of-the-art headquarters, which builds and produces high-tech Ford Fiesta rally cars for customers all over the world.

The two-times British Rally champion described the moment he had to tell staff that their jobs were under threat following Ford’s withdrawal as the most devastating moment of his career.

Wilson, who won two World Championships for Ford, said: “There will be some redundancies, but they will be minimal compared to what it could have been.

“It could have been 100 jobs if Qatar hadn’t come on board.

“We would have still been a viable business but it would have meant significant redundancies,” added Wilson.

“This has been the most difficult period of my business life but we are still here.”

There will be no job losses among the 12-strong workforce at Wilson’s satellite operation in Poland, where they produce cars for the Junior WRC.

M-Sport this week revealed it has teamed up with the State of Qatar to run three Ford Fiesta RS World Rally cars under the Qatar M-Sport World Rally Team banner in 2013.

The partnership comes five weeks after Ford announced it was pulling its rally sponsorship following a review of its European business.

Wilson brought the Ford World Rally team to his home county in 1996 after the car manufacturer failed in its attempts to persuade him to relocate to their previous base in Boreham in Chelmsford, Essex.

Ford were so determined to secure him as team director that they transferred the entire operation up to him.

Wilson repaid their faith and proved wrong the doubters who said a WRC team could never operate in the far-flung north by leading Ford to manufacturers’ World Championships in 2006 and 2007.

He also launched two new cars from his headquarters at Dovenby Hall and mentored two of the hottest talents in rallying in drivers Mikko Hirvonen and Jari-Matti Latvala.

M-Sport also produces Ford Fiesta rally cars for private customers and has 700 cars competing in championships all over the world, including the Middle East, Turkey and the USA.

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