Subaru and Suzuki withdraw from WRC in 2009

Suzuki and Subaru WRC 2008 collage
Suzuki and Subaru WRC 2008 collage

Both Japanese brands cite the deteriorating global economic conditions as reasons for pulling out of WRC racing

Two Japanese automakers have pulled out of WRC racing.

Both Subaru and Suzuki have announced they will not be fielding race teams for the 2009 FIA World Rally Championship season.

For Suzuki, the move into WRC was short-lived. It first entered the World Rally Championship just this year with two SX4's and finished fifth in the manufacturers standings. Suzuki cited the global economic turmoil and the precipitous decline in auto sales as the reason they are pulling out of WRC racing.

But Subaru is a major player in WRC racing. It ranked third in the manufacturers standing for 2008 and has won three titles as a brand and three driver's championships as well. Subaru had participated in WRC, along with its UK partner Prodrive, a motorsports and engineering group, for 19 years. So it is daunting to see them pulling out of rally car racing like this.

What's next? Ferrari decides it's too expensive to race in Formula One?


Source: Subaru, Suzuki
Published Dec 17th, 2008 12:08am By Alex Ricciuti

Suzuki to suspend the FIA World Rally Championship (WRC) activities

Suzuki Motor Corporation has decided to suspend the FIA World Rally Championship activities from 2009. The company made the 2008 season entry with two SX4 WRCs.

In responding to the contraction of the automotive sales caused by recent global economic turmoil, Suzuki has been promptly taking possible countermeasures including the reassessment of its global production output. The company, however, foresees the shrinking trend in longer periods of time rather than a short-term phenomenon. To secure its own business environment for tomorrow, the organization reviews every aspect of the operations and decided to focus on the core business functions such as the manufacturing system, environment technologies, and development of new-generation powertrains. As a result, Suzuki concluded to suspend the WRC activities from 2009.

Suzuki started to participate in the Junior World Rally Championship (JWRC) in 2002 with Ignis Super 1600 and achieved the driver's victories two times in the history. Afterwards, the company moved up to the WRC field in 2008. The entry to JWRC and WRC brought a great deal of positive effects on the product development and marketing activities, nurturing the high sporty automotive brand image, especially in Europe.

Suzuki will continue to support the customers who are participating in the JWRC with Swift Super 1600 machines, and local motor sport such as Swift Cup in Europe and the rest of the world.

Suzuki expresses its great appreciation to sponsors and fans around the world for their strong support to its activities. The company will continue to provide valued products for its customers by utilizing the experiences earned through the JWRC and WRC activities.


FHI to withdraw from FIA WRC after 2008 season

Tokyo, December 16, 2008 - Fuji Heavy Industries Ltd. (FHI), the maker of Subaru automobiles, today announced the withdrawal from the FIA World Rally Championship (WRC) at the end of the 2008 season.

FHI has participated in the WRC together with Prodrive, a motorsports and automotive engineering group in the UK, over the past 19 years to pursue its goal and philosophy in motor sports activities to enhance Subaru brand awareness by showing that Subaru vehicles offer safe, comfortable and pleasurable driving no matter the weather or road conditions, featuring Horizontally-Opposed engine and the Symmetrical All-Wheel drive system as its core technologies, and to transfer results of race-tested technical improvements into Subaru passenger vehicles.

Subaru has won three manufacturer's championship titles and three driver's championship titles in its history of rally racing. This has helped enhance the value of the Subaru brand as well as the sales expansion of Subaru vehicles all over the world.

FHI considers it has achieved its original target in WRC participation. However, while considering positioning the WRC activity in Subaru branding strategy towards the future, our business environment has been dramatically changed due to the quick deterioration of the global economy. 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.

As regards future involvement in rally activities, FHI will continue to support teams and drivers that participate in P-WRC or the Group N category.

President Mori commented that reaching this decision has been an extremely difficult task, not least with regards to the countless Subaru fans that for many years have cheered the legendary Subaru blue liveried Impreza World Rally Car; "We would like to express our sincere appreciation for our fans' strong and loyal support worldwide. They will remain an invaluable treasure for us."

Capitalizing on the priceless experience gained throughout the history in the WRC field, FHI will continue to offer Subaru customers products that integrate sheer excitement, safe, comfortable and reliable driving, respect of the global environment and peace of mind based on its philosophy of "Customer comes first."



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Comments (11)

shadowphantom shadowphantom
Wow this is not good at all. But will they pull out of Super GT next? This is a big blow to the rallying world nontheless
Dec 19th, 2008 10:16am
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firedog25 firedog25
This is HORRIBLE news! Subaru withdrawing from WRC is like sorority girls not drinking wine coolers anymore!
Dec 19th, 2008 5:42am
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dallaz dallaz
any one with re-runs of the 90's & 80's seasons. i'm paying big $$$ oh how i miss those classic battles. those were the good old days. a truly sad day. Mud.. is what really made a Subaru, a Subaru.
Dec 17th, 2008 4:35pm
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serraxtrem serraxtrem
What will happen with Peter ??? Only i can say is Good Bye !!!!!
Dec 17th, 2008 2:53pm
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marcel marcel
That is bad new - On the S2000 issue - It has been running here in South Africa for at least 1year now,and it is great - Will also help get other brands into WRC due to lower running costs
Dec 17th, 2008 2:45pm
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Max_Speed Max_Speed
Please tell me this is not true, I understand Suzuki,but not Subaru.Truly sad times :( PS :Wasn't the whole purpose of the redesigned imprezza to be more competitive in the WRC ?!
Dec 17th, 2008 8:34am
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GmBHcarfanatic GmBHcarfanatic
or probably redesigned it as an exit plan off the wrc, to be sold off as a street racing car... image change! im only assuming though.
Dec 17th, 2008 8:46am
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Tuner_Mad Tuner_Mad
OMG!! Subaru outta rallying? I don't blame them, but this is gonna be a major problem in their rep. Scoobies used to be known for competeing in rallies, now.....? Sad day for WRC. especially as it is going 'S2000' in 2010.
Dec 17th, 2008 6:19am
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unknown unknown
what?! that just sucks! Honda and Toyota F1, Honda in AMA, and now this?...that's no good at all
Dec 17th, 2008 6:09am
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Nurchus Nurchus
Bah! I always enjoyed watching Subaru and Mitsubishi go at it. Sad times...
Dec 17th, 2008 5:41am
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dmanero dmanero
WHAT, Suzuki I'm not surprised at that, but Subaru - I'm in SHOCK. Thats going to be a blow to the head, I'm certain there will be a drop in viewership.
Dec 17th, 2008 5:20am
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