It appears that the World Rally Championship has lost another key player. After word that Mini is leaving WRC comes news that Ford is pulling out as well. While Mini’s departure was rooted in its tenuous relationship with Prodrive, Ford’s exit from the sport is tied to the poor economic climate in Europe. According to a statement from Ford of Europe’s VP of Marketing, Sales and Service, Roeland de Waard, “Ford has a long and proud history in the WRC and this was not an easy decision.” He continued, “At this time, however, we determined that it was better for the company and the Ford brand to reduce our commitment to the WRC and deploy our resources in other areas.” While Ford’s factory backing might be out, the rally masters at M-Sport were running the Ford team up until this news and plan to stay on with the Fiesta WRC in the years to come. The racing outfit, run by Malcolm Wilson, has achieved 52 wins and 208 podium finishes in the 16 seasons that it has been racing with Ford. The M-Sport boss voiced his gratitude toward the relationship with the automaker saying, “I would like to thank Ford of Europe for their enthusiastic support and the faith shown in the team over the past 16 seasons. We understand that tough decisions have had to be made to safeguard Ford jobs.” M-Sport has run Ford’s factory team since 1997, and is talking with Ford to receive support in the form of vehicles and engineering. The extent of that support remains to be seen, and it is unknown if Ford will return to WRC if economic conditions in Europe improve. Source: Racer.com
A123 Systems, the Bay State battery maker that received millions in government grants, has filed for bankruptcy. The Waltham-based company sought Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection today after failing to make a debt payment that was due yesterday. A123 Systems listed about $460 million in assets and $376 million in debt in the filing in U.S. Bankruptcy Court in Delaware. “The company may not have sufficient cash to fund operations,” the company warned in a filing with the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission. A123 Systems — which makes high-tech batteries for electric cars with technology developed at MIT — received nearly $250 million in federal grants to build a factory in Livonia, Mich., with the promise to create some 38,000 U.S. jobs. The company also received a $5 million loan from the Patrick administration to expand in Massachusetts. Read more
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Vaughn Gittin, Jr. is a professional drifting champion. The Ford Mustang is a muscle car that is built in Flat Rock, Michigan. This is what happens when you put the two together. Just like Ken “From The” Block, Gittin is sponsored by Monster Energy. That means his contract probably stipulates that he has to participate in at least one gymkhana-esque event. For his driftravaganza, Gittin took a 2013 Mustang off the assembly line and proceeded to drift it around other Mustangs at the Flat Rock plant as part of a “comprehensive track test.” It indeed is comprehensive, and he only hits a couple other Mustangs along the way. Thanks Jalopnik!