Ford Rallye Sport star Markko Martin, who crashed out of the recent Tour de Course, is hoping to finally turn his good form he's shown on asphalt WRC events this season into a victory at the Catalunya Rally this weekend.

Ford Rallye Sport star Markko Martin, who crashed out of the recent Tour de Course, is hoping to finally turn his good form he's shown on asphalt WRC events this season into a victory at the Catalunya Rally this weekend.

Martin has been fastest on 21 of the 52 stages in Germany, Italy and Corsica but has scored just 10 points on the three asphalt rallies. He is therefore especially keen to get on to the top step of the podium this weekend and rack up Ford's first tarmac win since the 2000 Catalunya Rally.

"This is the last chance we have to win an asphalt rally this year," said Martin. "After all the hard work carried out by the team to make this car so good on tarmac it would be such a shame if we don't."

Martin crashed heavily on the final day in Corsica and both he and co-driver Michael 'Beef' Park have been receiving physiotherapy at the end of each day's recceing in Spain. Although both are still sore from the crash, Martin expects to be fit for the rally's first stages on Friday morning.

"The most important thing is to regain flexibility by the start of the rally," said Martin. "And we'll be having physiotherapy over the next few days to make sure that happens."

While it is still unclear whether or not Ford will be competing in the World Rally Championship next season, the outlook for the rally team did look a little more positive in Corsica this weekend.

The manufacturer was against increasing the WRC to 16 rounds in 2004 because of the costs involved, but Jost Capito, Director at Team Ford RS, says the decisions made by the FIA's World Council to allow 16 rallies at least allows the manufacturer to work out the costs of it competing in the WRC next season.

"We don't like the fact of having 16 rallies next year because 2004 has to be cheaper than this year for us," he said. "But at least we have a base to work from now. And I'd like to see the situation sorted by the Rally GB."

Rally team boss Malcolm Wilson echoed Capito's sentiments, saying that M-Sport - the outfit that runs Ford's WRC programme - can now prepare a budget for next season.

"I think we now have a platform on which we can work on," said Wilson. "In the last few months things have been up in the air. We have now got these decisions, so we can actually get to work and produce a plan and a budget and really look for a way forward. It is there now; it is in black and white. We might not like everything that is in there but if we want to stay in the business we have got to work with it.”

Original article from Car