Japan’s Fuji Heavy Industries, the maker of Subaru cars, said today it would withdraw from the world rally championship at the end of the 2008 season because of the global financial crisis.
"Our business environment has rapidly deteriorated. In order to protect the Subaru brand we were forced to make this decision," Fuji Heavy President Ikuo Mori told a press conference.
Mori fought back tears as he announced the decision at a press conference here, thanking Subaru fans.
He cited the global economic slump and falling car sales as major reasons.
The company had already decided to pull out of the rally at the end of 2009 but brought forward the timing due to the severity of the business environment, he said.
The announcement came a day after Suzuki said it would not compete in the 2009 world rally championship largely because of the present financial crisis.
Their exit follows the shock withdrawal of Honda from Formula One earlier this month.
Various version of Subaru Impreza that had raced in the World Rally Championship in the last 15 years...
Petter Solberg won the WRC championship with Subaru in 2003...
While the Norway’s former world rally champion Petter Solberg has confirmed he will drive a privately-owned Citroen Xsara for his comeback in the 2009 World Rally Championships.
The 2003 world champion was left without a drive this year after his previous team, Subaru, pulled out of the series at the end of last year.
The Norwegian was left kicking his heels as there were no vacancies at the Ford or Citroen factory teams.
But Solberg said he would now run his own team for up to 11 rounds this year in a bid to buy more time to negotiate a paid drive for 2010.
"I’ll be in the Xsara for Rally Norway and the plan is to do the whole championship from then - although not necessarily with the same car," said Solberg.
"Everything I’m doing is being done with 2010 in mind. We’ll start with Norway, with my own team, but I haven’t got the entire 2009 season together yet.
"I’ve put this deal together in 20 days, and I expect things will change through the season. Nobody knows what the future will bring but I’m happy with what we’ve got for the short term."