After Suzuki, another Japanese rallying manufacturer, Subaru, withdraws from the World Rally Championship because of the financial crisis. Subaru finished third out of six manufacturers, behind Citroen and Ford.
Subaru joins fellow Japanese automaker Suzuki Motor Corp, which announced its exit a day earlier.
Their exit leaves just world champions Citroen, owned by PSA Peugeot Citroen, and cash-strapped Ford Motor Co chasing the manufacturers' title next year.
"Our business environment has changed dramatically due to the rapid deterioration of the global economy," Fuji Heavy Chief Executive Ikuo Mori told a news conference in
"In order to optimise the management resources and to strengthen the Subaru brand further, Fuji Heavy decided to withdraw from WRC activities at the earliest time," a tearful Mori said, briefly losing his composure at one point.
Automakers all over the world are under severe pressure to find ways to reduce spending as a sudden downturn in global car demand knocks profitability.
Honda Motor Co,
Rallying does not have anything like the budgets of Formula One, where a team like Honda can burn through $500 million a year, and the sport also has a long-standing tradition of private entrants.
Subaru team boss David Richards had told Reuters on Monday that Citroen, Ford and Subaru were all assessing their participation in the championship on an ongoing basis and that nothing could be taken for granted in the current climate.
Still, Subaru's decision will deal a blow to fans, and possibly to its brand image, which the automaker said had helped it expand sales around the world.
Established in 1989, the team won manufacturers' titles in 1995, 1996 and 1997 and had boasted some of the best drivers in the sport, including Carlos Sainz, Colin McRae and Richard Burns.
Subaru finished third place of six teams in the manufacturers' championship this year.
Date created : 2008-12-16