JANUARY 17, 2002
BAT back to World Rally Championship
In a surprise announcement on the eve of the Monte Carlo Rally (January 18-20), British American Tobacco has announced that it will be reuniting its 555 brand with the works Subaru Impreza team of Prodrive, whose boss is new British American Racing chief David Richards.
BAT involved its 555 brand in rallying in the mid-1980s, and joined the Prodrive-Subaru partnership at the outset with the blue and gold Imprezas of 1994-98 becoming world famous through both their successes in the sport and the Colin McRae Rally simulator on the PlayStation.
"I think it is fair to say it has become one of the most recognizable images in motor sport worldwide," said Prodrive's Subaru WRC chief David Lapworth. "It also marked the beginning of one of the most successful teams in the modern era of rallying."
Another branding surprise expected in Monte Carlo is rumored to be the absence of Martini & Rossi livery on the works Ford Focus team as terms for an extension to the deal are not thought to have yet been reached. Martini's famous stripes adorned the works Lancia cars through the 1980s and 1990s, and returned to the WRC front-line in 1999 and the beginning of Ford's Focus WRC campaign
The cars are expected to run in a dark blue livery featuring Ford's new 'Rallye Sport' branding, which replaces 'Ford Racing' as the name of the blue oval's sporting activities as they decrease on the circuit and are devoted to the special stage.