Mazda has confirmed what industry sources told just-auto earlier on Monday: its UK boss Rob Lindley is moving to McLaren Automotive to work in a sales position seen as a part of the Formula One firm's strategy to develop a new range of cars when the existing partnership with Mercedes on the SLR ends in 2009.

A Mazda UK spokesman told just-auto that current sales director Jeremy Thomson would be promoted to managing director to replace Lindley on Wednesday (1 October). Thomson's successor will be named later.

The sources said UK-based McLaren was planning to develop a range of luxury, mid-engined sports cars and needed an experienced marketing man to run a worldwide sales operation.

Daimler owns 40% of McLaren and a number of projects for new cars - besides the SLR - to be made in partnership with Mercedes-Benz are said to have been studied in the past, though none were signed off.

Thomson was sales director at Mazda UK for the last three years. He was marketing director in 2003-2005 and fleet director in 2001-2003.  From 1989 he had a number of sales, marketing and service roles at Ford.

He joined Mazda UK when the national sales company was formed in 2001 to replace the previous independently owned distributor.