16 December 2008

Subaru quits WRC

Only Ford and Citroen remain as economic downturn bites

Colin McRae

Sad news: Subaru is pulling out of the World Rally Championship with immediate effect.

The withdrawal has been blamed on the ‘widespread economic downturn that is affecting the entire automotive industry’, and comes just a day after Suzuki also announced it was quitting the sport.

It’s the end of 20 years in the sport for the Prodrive-run team, an era that yielded six WRC titles and made world champions out of TG legends Colin McRae and Richard Burns.

Subaru’s decision may have been influenced by the new set of WRC technical regulations, announced this week and set to take effect in 2010. They specify that next year’s WRC cars will be based on current Super 2000 specifications, meaning that Subaru would have had to develop a all-new road car: clearly a prohibitive cost.

Prodrive chairman David Richards acknowledged that Subaru’s departure was a sad day for the sport, but insisted that his firm would now concentrate on other areas of business.

At present, only Ford and Citroen are committed to the 2009 WRC season. With Honda quitting F1, Audi pulling out of the American Le Mans Series and Seat ditching the British Touring Car Championship, the future’s looking bleak for just about every form of motorsport.

Bugger. 

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