Subaru pulls out of the WRC
|By Jonathan Noble||Tuesday, December 16th 2008, 09:28 GMT|
Subaru has made a shock announcement that it will pull out of the World Rally Championship with immediate effect.
Just 24 hours after Suzuki quit the series, Subaru cited the worldwide financial economic crisis as to why it will also not continue.
David Richards, the boss of the Prodrive company that runs Subaru's efforts in the WRC, was saddened by the decision which brings to an end a 20-year association.
"Subaru's departure from the World Rally Championship is a great loss as it is one of the sport's icons," said Richards, who helped Prodrive win six WRC titles.
"The Subaru World Rally Team has created true champions such as Colin McRae and Richard Burns and its absence will be felt by many the world over. Although this decision closes a significant chapter in Prodrive's history, our focus now turns to the future."
Richards said Prodrive would look to redeploy their WRC workforce elsewhere in the company - having also confirmed that their customer rally teams will continue.
A statement from Prodrive suggested that they were looking for a swift return to the WRC, especially with new regulations are set to come into force in 2010.
"Looking ahead, 2010 will see the introduction of new World Rally Championship technical regulations, which provide Prodrive with an opportunity to prepare for re-entering the championship with a new team and build on its 24 years of World Rally Championship experience and success," said the statement.
Subaru has struggled to find form with the Impreza in recent years. The last victory was in September 2005, when Petter Solberg took victory in the Rally GB after Sebastien Loeb chose not to triumph following the death of Michael Park. The last win on merit was the Rally Mexico in March 2005.
The long-awaited new Impreza was introduced in the Acropolis Rally in May and, although its performance was originally encouraging with Solberg finishing second in Greece, it was never able to genuinely challenge Citroen or Ford for victories.
The team were hoping to push ahead with the development of the car ahead of next season and were planning to run four cars in 2009.
The withdrawal of Subaru and Suzuki in the last 24 hours leaves just two manufacturers in the sport - Citroen and Ford.