DECEMBER 16, 2008
Subaru pulls the plug on the WRC
Subaru has joined Suzuki in withdrawing from the FIA World Rally Championship, blaming the global financial crisis.
Japan's Fuji Heavy Industries, the maker of Subaru cars, said that "our business environment has rapidly deteriorated. In order to protect the Subaru brand we were forced to make this decision."
The company said it had already decided to pull out of rallying at the end of 2009 but brought forward the timing due to the crisis.
"All forms of motorsport, and not just the world rally championship, have to be concerned about the manufacturer involvement currently," said Subaru team boss David Richards. "Whilst manufacturers are under such financial pressures in the normal marketplace, any discretionary spend is going to be avoided if at all possible."
Rallying is trying to slash costs with the World Championship reduced to 12 races from 15 next year and it is switching to Super 2000 specification from 2010 to make the sport more afforrdable.
Richards said Citroen, Ford and Subaru were all assessing their participation in the championship on an ongoing basis and nothing could be taken for granted in the current climate.
"It is beholden to motorsport to get its own house in order and make sure that motorsport programmes are cost effective and give good value for money so manufacturers see it as a positive way of investing their marketing spend," Richards said.