Subaru quits rally world championship as well
Subaru on Tuesday quit the world rally championships (WRC) just 24 hours after fellow-Japanese company Suzuki, like them citing the global economic crisis, reported dpa.
Subaru won three straight world rally constructors titles 1995-1997 and three drivers titles from Britons Colin McRae (1995) and Richard Burns (2001) as well as Petter Solberg of Norway (2003).
But the the grim economic outlook now forced Subaru out of the rally world championship after 19 years with 47 race wins.
"Our business environment has been dramatically changed due to the quick deterioration of the global economy," said a statement from Subaru owners Fuji Heavy Industries (FHI).
"In order to optimize the management resources and to strengthen further the Subaru brand, FHI decided to withdraw from WRC activities at the earliest timing."
Subaru are the the third Japanese carmakers to end a motorsport engagement. Honda quit Formula One racing on December 5 and Suzuki pulled out of the rally world championship after just one year on Monday.
Team boss David Richards named Subaru's exit "a great loss especially as Subaru was one of the pillars of the sport for years." But he expressed his hopes for a comeback with a team in a reformed rally series from 2010 onwards.
The withdrawal of Subaru and Suzuki leaves only Citroen and Ford in the WRC.
Three manufacturers must be engaged in the series, but Mitsubishi are reportedly returning to the event in 2009 by supporting a private team.
The ruling body FIA may also treat the private teams Stobart (Britain) and Munchi's (Argentina) as constructors even though both are supported by Ford.