New Formula Ford on for 2006 as car giant steps in

Although the current-generation Zetec machines will be carried over into next year, Ford will evaluate options to overhaul the regulations ahead of the following season through Ford Team RS

New Formula Ford on for 2006 as car giant steps in

One option being considered is a switch from the venerable but unpopular Zetec 1800cc unit in favour of a return to 1600cc engines, with either Ford's Duratec - which has become increasingly popular in motorsport - or Sigma powerplants.

Among the benefits for the championship in 2005 will be the provision of on-event hospitality, professional branding and a television highlights package that will help it to compete with the well-backed Formula Renault and Formula BMW categories. The series is set to remain on the British F3/GT package and will be run by Racingline.

The move is understood to have been directly instigated by Ford of Europe chairman Lewis Booth to stave off the increasing possibility that the category, which has run continuously since its inception in 1967, would not continue in Britain next season.

Team bosses in the series, a number of which had expressed concern over the future of the category, were notified of the plan last week, with a formal announcement expected to coincide with the Formula Ford Festival on October 15-17.

Team JLR boss Richard Dean said: "It sounds very positive, but we haven't been given any firm details to support any decisions we make for next year. There was a strong presence from Ford and Ford Team RS at Brands Hatch, but until we know exactly what we are selling to drivers for next season it is too early to say."

Ford and Racingline declined to comment on the plans.

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