COLOGNE, Germany – Ford Europe has announced that it will extend its participation in the World Rally championship through 2012/13.Long-term partner M-Sport, a British-based preparation company which has successfully operated Ford’s WRC activities since 1997, will continue to operate the programme from its facility in north-west England.SOLBERG SIGNS UPThe Fiesta RS World Rally Car will continue as Ford’s WRC flagship. The car, based on the successful Fiesta road car, made a clean sweep of the podium in the first and final rounds of its 2011 debut season. Finland’s Jari-Matti Latvala and co-driver Miikka Anttila, who topped the World rankings for special-stage victories in 2011 and won the final round of the championship in Britain in November, have been confirmed as team leaders for 2012. They will be partnered by former World champion Petter Solberg and Chris Patterson, who have signed a one-year agreement to drive the team’s second Fiesta RS WRC in all 13 rounds. The experienced Solberg, 37, won the World title in 2003 and has 13 WRC wins. It will be his second stint with Ford since starting his WRC career with the team in 1999.The squad will be named Ford World Rally Team and will retain support from long-term partner Castrol. Ford has a long and successful heritage in rallying. It is second in the all-time wins list with 79 WRC wins and its run of 145 consecutive points finishes, dating back to the opening round of the 2002 championship, is the longest in the sport’s history.'A GREAT FIT'Ford Europe chairman and CEO Stephen Odell highlighted the strong will of all parties to continue in the WRC: “Ford has a rich history in World rallying and we’re excited to continue fighting for titles on the world stage with our great partners at M-Sport.“WRC is a great fit with the Ford brand DNA of precise handling, fun-to-drive cars with leading technology and we’ll continue to leverage rallying to inspire innovation in future vehicles and reach new audiences.”Gerard Quinn, Ford of Europe’s senior manager for motorsport, emphasised what WRC competition means to Ford. “The WRC is motorsport’s toughest competition for production-based cars,” he said. Through WRC, we can convey the attributes of our road vehicles and send a clear message to our customers and fans about Ford’s passion and expertise.“The addition of Petter Solberg to the team brings one of the sport’s most experienced and flamboyant drivers back to the team where he started his top-level career. A Drivers’ World title and 13 WRC wins are testament to his abilities and his vast experience will be a great asset."