Petter Solberg will test a Ford Fiesta RS WRC for the first time on Thursday, in hopes of joining the team as its second driver in 2012.
Solberg outlined his plans during Rally GB last month and the details of the test were further discussed with Ford team principal Malcolm Wilson in London last week. Solberg hasn't driven for Wilson's factory squad since 2000, when he departed the team midseason for Subaru.
A source within Ford said: "Petter is still a very fast driver and a driver capable of becoming a World Champion again. The test makes a lot of sense for us all, it'll be good to see him back in one of our cars again and interesting to see what he can do. Beyond that, nothing much more has been discussed."
Solberg was unavailable for comment on the test, but talking about a potential Ford return last month, he said: "I think Jari-Matti [Latvala] and I could make a very strong team, a really strong team for next year.
"There's no doubt that Jari has the potential to be a World Champion and I want to help do what I can for the team. I have been the privateer for three years and now I really want to go back to the factory car. I know what I am capable of still and it would be fantastic to go back with Malcolm again."
Solberg dismissed rumors that he and his brother Henning might form a two-car Ford team.
"This is not going to happen," he said. "For next year, I need to have the factory car, to be part of the factory team. I won't be in the team with Henning."
Despite his switch to a private team, Solberg had been in contact with Volkswagen, but the German firm signed Sebastien Ogier instead.
Latvala is testing the Fiesta this week, but his seat time ended prematurely yesterday when he slid off the road. The car was undamaged.
Solberg and the Ford team will test close to the base for next year's season opener, the Monte Carlo Rally, in Valence. An announcement is scheduled for Monday next week – the closing date for manufacturer entries to the World Rally Championship.