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BP-Ford World Rally Team has strengthened its FIA World Rally Championship title challenge by agreeing to a new partnership with the Abu Dhabi Tourism Authority (ADTA).  The agreement will provide a significant boost to the BP-Ford squad, winner of the manufacturers' crown in 2006 and clear leader in both the drivers' and manufacturers' standings at the halfway point of the 2007 season.

Ford Team RS director, Jost Capito, BP-Ford team director, Malcolm Wilson, and championship leader, Marcus Grönholm, were all present in Abu Dhabi as ADTA chairman, Sheikh Sultan Bin Tahnoon Al Nahyan, announced details of the new partnership to a large gathering of media.

It begins immediately and the team's Ford Focus RS World Rally Cars will carry a revised livery bearing Abu Dhabi signage from the next round of the championship in Finland next month. 

United Arab Emirates driver Khalid AlQassimi and co-driver Nicky Beech, leaders of the FIA Middle East Championship, will drive a BP-Ford-entered Focus RS WRC on four of the remaining eight rounds of the championship - in Finland, Germany, Spain and Ireland.  The team will be renamed BP-Ford Abu Dhabi World Rally Team from the start of the 2008 season.

The partnership was welcomed by Ford of Europe president and CEO John Fleming, who said: "Ford is delighted to welcome ADTA into the WRC and, more specifically, into the successful BP-Ford World Rally Team. Having won the world title last year with the Focus RS WRC, we've made a strong start to the 2007 season and currently lead both the manufacturers' and drivers' championships.

"Abu Dhabi is growing rapidly in the business and tourism markets and I'm pleased that Ford is now a part of that development.  This is also a major boost for the sport.  Abu Dhabi has its sights set on establishing itself as the home of motorsport in the Middle East and the WRC will benefit hugely from its involvement," he added.

"This is a great day for Motorsport, for Abu Dhabi and for the United Arab Emirates.  This valued partnership for the current season sets us all on-course for continued international awareness, and from 2008, the BP-Ford Abu Dhabi World Rally Team will be seen competing across the globe," said    Sheikh Sultan.  "We have total faith in the partnership between Abu Dhabi and the BP-Ford World Rally Team."

Jost Capito said: "Ford of Europe has long recognised the value of the WRC in its marketing activities.  The company has been a staunch supporter of rallying for many years and this new association indicates that ADTA shares our view.  I look forward to a fruitful partnership in which both the team and the WRC will go from strength to strength," he said.

Malcolm Wilson added: "This is great news for Ford's campaign in the WRC. The fact that ADTA was so keen to join forces with BP-Ford is a massive vote of confidence in our programme and our abilities and I share ADTA's excitement and confidence for the future."

Abu Dhabi has built up an impressive portfolio of sporting events which have raised international awareness of the Emirates' capital.  It hosts the Red Bull Air Race, the Abu Dhabi Cycling Race of Champions and the Abu Dhabi Golf Championship and will host its first Formula 1 Grand Prix in 2009.

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