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Ford still on V8 Supercars grid

FPR stalwart Mark Winterbottom hopes to see Ford remain in the sport for a long time.

Ford will not be lost to V8 Supercars — at least for another year — with the manufacturing giant set to extend its sponsorship of the Ford Performance Racing team for a further 12 months. In a move that will keep the fierce Holden versus Ford war alive, Ford is on the verge of handing a new set of keys to FPR.

Ford has been in deep negotiations with the team and V8 Supercars for the past month with the manufacturer considering options in a tough car market. The decision to axe the Falcon and cease Australian operations at the end of 2016 led to widespread speculation Ford would end its association with the sport when its contract with FPR expired at the end of the year.

But Ford is likely to sign on for another year with FPR and V8 Supercars, presenting a strong case for the manufacturer to stick around and take the fight to Holden, as well as new comers Nissan, Mercedes and soon Volvo. “A 12-month deal is looking likely,’’ a well-placed V8 source said.  “Negotiations look -encouraging and as of last week a new deal was looking imminent.”

The new deal will leave Ford fans rejoicing and give the sport another year to convince the manufacturer there is a long-term future in V8s. The “Car of the Future’’ platform has enabled manufacturers easily to adapt many models for racing in the series, with Nissan this year bringing in the mid-size Altima and Volvo to unleash the S-60 on famous tracks such as Mount Panorama and Phillip Island.

V8 officials have shown Ford their long-term plans and confirmed it would be able to race with a mid-size entry, with the sport aware of a shift towards smaller cars in the current economy. Depending on Ford’s plans, the Mustang may also be revived and is the preference of Ford drivers Mark Winterbottom and David Reynolds.

Winterbottom yesterday said he hoped to see Ford remain in the sport for a long time, saying it was vital to the success of the category. “It is important for the sport that they stay,’” Winterbottom said yesterday. “Ford has such a long history in the sport and they have so many fans that would be shattered if they left.”