Team Principal:Malcolm Wilson
Current Car:Ford Fiesta RS WRC
Manufacturer WRC Wins:none
Originally run under the Stobart VK M-Sport World Rally Team banner, but now titled the Qatar M-Sport World Rally Team, the outfit has a relationship with Ford going back decades.
The current incarnation of the team can be traced back to the Stobart-sponsored team of 2006, when 44 points in the manufacturers’ title chase that year thanks to the efforts of drivers Luis Perez Companc, Kosti Katajamaki, Jari-Matti Latvala, Pieter Tsjoen and Matthew Wilson, Malcolm’s son, who was competing under a five-year development plan.
Wilson Jr and Latvala were both handed full programmes in 2007 and were joined by new recruit Henning Solberg who, along with Latvala, was often charged with chasing manufacturers’ points for the squad. Solberg bagged the team’s first podium three events in on home soil in Norway, while Latvala was a podium finisher on the penultimate round in Ireland having led in Italy, Finland and Japan, where Wilson scored a career-best fourth.
The team eventually finished fourth in the final table after dropping behind Subaru on the Rally GB finale.
With Latvala promoted to the main Ford line-up for 2008, Italian Gigi Galli signed on a season-long deal to join Solberg and Wilson, who remained key players in the team. Galli was a podium finisher in Sweden but struggled to repeat that early high. Following a spate of retirements he headed to Rallye Deutschland anxious to claim a strong finish only to crash heavily and break his left leg. Although the popular Galli would make a full recovery, the smash effectively ended his WRC career after he ran into sponsorship difficulties.
There was some reason for cheer in Germany, however: Belgian asphalt ace Francois Duval, undertaking a limited programme of events with the team, finished third.
Duval’s efforts resulted in his promotion to the main Ford team for the Tarmac rounds in Spain and Corsica in a direct swap with the underperforming Latvala, who used his return to his former team to regain his confidence following a troubled run.
The team completed the year by handing MotoGP legend Valentino Rossi a drive in a Stobart-backed Focus on Wales Rally GB.
Solberg and Wilson were team mainstays again in 2009, but the chance to drive a near-factory spec Ford Focus World Rally Car also attracted leading privateer drivers like Urmo Aava (Ireland and Norway) and Krzysztof Holowczyc (Poland).
A handful of star names competed under the M-Sport Stobart banner in 2010, including Marcus Gronholm and Juha Kankkunen. But it was Solberg and Wilson who were once again responsible for claiming the bulk of the team’s manufacturers’ championship points. Duval also appeared for Stobart in 2010 but suffered a huge crash on Rallye Deutschland, which left navigator Denis Giraudet with broken ribs. PG Andersson was seventh on a one-off drive in Bulgaria, while Ken Block was a nominated M-Sport Stobart driver on a handful of events and took his first points in Spain.
New signing Mads Ostberg was the team’s star performer in 2011 with podiums in Sweden - where he led - and Great Britain. Solberg and Wilson scored points on a regular basis and helped the team to third in the final manufacturers’ standings.
In 2012, the team once again finished in a strong third place with 170 points (compared to 178 points in 2011). In 2013, all the cards are being thrown up into the air. With no Ford works team, M-Sport can devote all its attention to this team, but there is also the presence of the new VW team to factor into the equation. Whether the Qatar M-Sport World Rally Team can step up to take the place of the works Ford team is one of the big questions for this season.