Skoda poised for full return

Skoda Motorsport is close to announcing a full-time return to the World Rally Championship in 2005 with its Fabia WRC, reports Autosport magazine

Skoda poised for full return

The Czech Republic firm's results have improved since it took a sabbatical earlier this year and this is believed to be a major contributing factor in swaying the company's chiefs decision over a full programme in 2005.

"We just have to wait a couple of weeks to see what the final decision is going to be from the Volkswagen Group," said a team insider, "but I'd be more optimistic than before."

The news is a welcome boost to the WRC, which has been beleagered with speculation over a Ford pull-out in 2005.

Ford of Europe's CEO Lewis Booth has indicated that a decision over the Blue Oval's rallying future is still a couple of weeks away. Sources suggest that there is still insufficient budget for next year but that Ford's rally partner M-Sport has made gains in sponsorship support. Any programme run by the preparation specialist still hinges on a decision on Ford's long-term stategy however.

"We're in discussion with M-Sport and we're probably two to three weeks away from making a decision," said Booth. "It's about value for money and budgets. And ensuring we'll be competitive.

"I'm English, so I've seen Ford in rallying forever. It's part of our business in Britain and in many other parts of Europe. It's not just about cost - but with things as tough as they are, budgets are important."

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