Ford wields the ax and shockingly drops out of a racing championship

It’s been an interesting year for the Ford Motor Company to say the least.

Back in May, Ford replaced its CEO Mark Shields with Jim Hackett, who previously served as the company’s autonomous driving chief.  While Ford achieved record sales during Shield’s time as CEO, the company’s stock price dropped by approximately 40% over concerns about the company’s future, according to a report by CBS News.

It’s safe to say that Ford is behind both Chevrolet and Tesla when it comes to electrified vehicles, with Chevy releasing the new Bolt EV and Tesla the Model 3 sedan. Both vehicles have an all-electric driving range of more the 200 miles and cost less than $40,000. This gap in electrified vehicle technology could be the reason why Ford and Hoonigan Racing have announced they will not be competing in the FIA World Rally Championship following this season.

To elaborate, WRX has already announced plans to introduced electric vehicles to the FIA World Rally Championship by 2020. In addition, Red Bull Global Rallycross is likely to introduce electric vehicles to its series in 2018.

“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 Dave Pericak, Global Director of Ford Performance, in a prepared statement.  “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 remain absolutely committed to hot hatches and all things performance and think rallycross has a bright future.”

So, all the hard work Ford put into creating its Focus RS RX racers seems to have been just a two-year experiment, as the company won’t even sell the vehicle to interested consumers due to prior agreements with Ford Performance.

As for its drivers, Ken Block and Andreas Bakkerud, Block will continue to serve as a global ambassador for the Ford brand, producing digital content and competing in Gymkhana Grid races. However, the future isn’t as clear for Bakkerud, according to the New England Sports Network.

“Both myself and Ford Performance have learned a lot from this program,” Block said in a statement. “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 racecar 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 motorsports go sometimes.

“As for Andreas [Bakkerud], 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 honored to have been able to have him as my teammate. 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 — and I’m looking forward to shipping him a bottle of champagne when he finally brings home a championship for himself.”

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