Subaru and Suzuki quit WRC

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One single day after Suzuki announced its withdrawal from the World Rally Championship, Subaru has opted out too, ending a 20-year stint in the sport. Both manufacturers claim their involvement in the sport is currently not justifiable given the economic situation and downfall of car sales.

Prodrive, the company which runs the team on behalf of Subaru, broke the news at 0900hrs this morning. It said the decision was sudden and had been made in response to the economic downturn currently affecting the automotive industry.

“This is not only sad news for Subaru and the team, but also for millions of rallying fans around the world,” said Prodrive chairman David Richards.

While the Subaru World Rally Team historically represented a significant part of Prodrive’s business, today it accounts for no more than 20 per cent of turnover. Prodrive says it will look to redeploy as many of the rally team as possible in other areas of its business operations.

While there is no news yet about Subaru’s drivers Petter Solberg/Phil Mills and Chris Atkinson/Stephane Prevot, Prodrive itself is already lining up its own rally return saying "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."

Prodrive also pledged to support its own customer rally teams for 2009 and beyond. Over the past 15 years, Prodrive has sold close to 500 rally cars to more than 400 private competitors and independent rally teams in 47 countries.

Yesterday, Suzuki also pulled the plug because of the economic situation: "In responding to the contraction of the automotive sales caused by recent global economic turmoil, Suzuki has been promptly taking possible countermeasures including the reassessment of its global production output."

Suzuki will however continue to provide valued products for its customers by utilizing the experiences earned through the J-WRC and WRC activities.