Whitaker on the move after Jaguar confirmation?

MARTIN WHITAKER, the boss of Ford's European motorsport programs, is expected to move away from the Formula 1 program next year although our sources at Ford say that he will retain "a senior position at World Championship level". In effect this means that Whitaker will take charge of the Ford Focus World Rally Championship program. Martin had been in competition with Jackie Stewart for the role of chief executive of the Jaguar Racing F1 team.

Ford's full plans in motorsport have yet to be announced but we expect there to be a major sportscar program, a touring car program and a Formula 3000 team. We also expect to see Ford's North American racing programs to be streamlined and perhaps increased. The company is pushing hard for a deal between CART and IRL to establish a dominant single-seater series in the United States and is also looking at strengthening the company's links with NASCAR teams. We have also heard rumors that Ford is looking at entering the Indy Lights series.

It seems that, for the moment at least, all motor sporting programs are to remain under the control of Neil Ressler - although he has other commitments as the company's chief technical officer. He is due to retire in June 2004 but could remain the key figure until then.

At the Jaguar launch it was Ressler who represented Ford. "Although the blue oval Ford branding will not be seen on a Formula 1 car next year, the Ford Motor Company is putting more technical resources into F1 than ever before," he said.

The Frankfurt announcements included the appointment of Trevor Crisp as the new managing-director of Cosworth Racing. Crisp replaces Dick Scammell who has been doing a caretaker job for the last year. Crisp is currently chief engineer for powertrain engineering at Jaguar Cars in Coventry although he did work on the development of the Coventry Climax Formula 1 engines in the 1960s. Crisp promised that Cosworth will be involved in "other exciting projects" in addition to the Jaguar Racing operation.

Jaguar confirmed that Eddie Irvine has been signed up with a three-year deal and that Johnny Herbert will be staying on for the 2000 season. A Stewart-Ford painted up in Jaguar colors was unveiled in Frankfurt and this revealed continued backing from HSBC, MCI Worldcom, Lear and Visteon. The sponsorship somewhat detracts from the all green Jaguar livery but it will certainly help the funding.

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