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Click above to view Subaru's 2008 WRC car in our high-resolution image gallery

Rally fans who were troubled by the rumors yesterday that Subaru was preparing to do the unthinkable and scrap its WRC team will be disappointed to learn that the speculation has proven to be true, as parent company Fuji Heavy Industries has announced it is pulling its participation effective immediately.

Not unlike its fellow Japanese automaker Honda, which has canceled its Formula One program, Fuji Heavy points to cost-cutting measures amidst the current global economic crisis as its reason for canceling its motorsport program. Still, it's a shocking move for the automaker that earned its reputation on the rally circuit, even if they haven't won a single stage since 2005. The move also means that Prodrive, the racing consultancy firm that has operated the Subaru WRC team for over 20 years, will need to find a new partner for next season and beyond as the WRC moves ahead with new regulations. But Prodrive may find the rally circuit a lonely place after Suzuki also canceled its participation, leaving Ford and Citroen as the only manufacturers fielding factory teams in the top level of rallying. Follow the jump for the official press release.

PRESS RELEASE

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."

About Fuji Heavy Industries Ltd.

Fuji Heavy Industries Ltd. (FHI), the maker of Subaru automobiles, is a leading manufacturer in Japan with a long history of technological innovations that dates back to its origin as an aircraft company. While the automotive business is a main business pillar, FHI's Aerospace, Industrial Products and Eco Technologies divisions offer a diverse range of products from general-purpose engines, power generators, and sanitation trucks to small airplanes, crucial components for passenger aircrafts, and wind-powered electricity generating systems. Recognized internationally for its AWD (all-wheel drive) technology and Horizontally-Opposed engines in Subaru, FHI is also spearheading the development of environmentally friendly products and is committed to contributing to global environmental preservation.



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  • 48 Comments
      • 6 Years Ago
      I'm sure the economy was just the last straw for Subaru. The team has been struggling for the past few years now and I'm sure management was looking to exit anyway. Between the lackluster showings of Solberg and Atko, the rule changes for 2010 to a "S2000 based" standard, and the economy...

      I was going to attend Rally Portugal, but not sure if there is a point with only three cars on the road.

      • 6 Years Ago
      Does World rally even exist without Subie? I have never owned a Suburau, but as a fan of Rallying I can't imagine the sport without Subaru. Imagine F1 without Mclaren.
        • 6 Years Ago
        @ Shipey

        Yes, the economy has slowed down and people are losing their jobs...good reason for freaking out.

        @ Throwback

        Sorry, Subaru isn't the backbone of rallying. There was a time when you would ask "Subaru who?" I await the return of those forces who owned the scene in the 70's, 80's and early 90's. Their absence allowed Suburu and others to fill the vacuum they left behind.
        • 6 Years Ago
        You don't have to image too hard. Racing is under serious threat.
      • 6 Years Ago
      I see this as a potential cleansing agent.

      Honda, Suzuki, Subaru, Porsche, Audi, and all of these other companies that are dropping racing programs left and right are caught between a rock and a hard place.

      On one side, cash is getting tight, and they have to think about continuing to make cars for sale, above all. A racing program is automatically cancelled if the auto makers go under entirely sometime in the future, especially if this economic situation is prolonged.

      On the other side, these racing programs get more and more regulated, the rules get more and more stifling, and the programs get more and more expensive, with no real end in sight. Things like one-manufacturer engines, and drastically changing format rules that require re-development, are non-starters. Companies are finding it harder to spend dollars for development for vehicles that only race, that don't highly coincide with their development of vehicle for sale. F1, or WRC, or any other format. Prototype racing is expensive stuff.

      With so many competitors dropping out, and one would think that sponsors aren't exactly in a dissimilar cash position, that these racing series might be in some dire straits.

      I can only hope that the motorsport organizers behind those series can grasp what is happening, and re-tool motorsport racing into something a little, or even a lot more grounded, and a lot more focused on production vehicle specifications, and more compatible with smaller team budgets.

      The trick is not to stop racing, but to figure out how to race what you have, without breaking the bank in a tighter economic period.
      • 6 Years Ago
      When I picture modern rally racing, the first car that comes to mind is a blue Subaru with gold rims. Without that image, Subaru isn't even a blip on the radar to me.
      • 6 Years Ago
      On the other hand maybe this will mean a dual clutch gearbox and 400hp in the STI that or a bunch of toyotarus
      • 6 Years Ago
      I am in total shock. I'm sure Subaru thought long and hard about this decision, but I am heart broken by this news. I just moved to Seattle and am considering a Subaru to replace my Lexus RX350 lease - this news won't keep me away from buying a Subaru (I want the reliability, traction and fun that comes with a Subaru), but I would feel better if knowing part of my purchase is going to help the Subaru WRC team. I hope Subaru returns to WRC in the near future and that this is only temporary.
      • 6 Years Ago
      A sad day, indeed. "Rally" = "Blue car, gold wheels" with a Subaru badge.

      We'll miss you, Subaru.
      • 6 Years Ago
      W.T.F.

      The economy has slowed down... lets all FREAK OUT.

      Seems like a pretty hard knee-jerk reaction considering the fact that their top performance models are entirely based around this type of racing.
        • 6 Years Ago
        Mitsubishi does not seem to be having issues selling the Evo....
        • 6 Years Ago
        Seriously, this is what a lot of people think about when they see a Subaru. What are they supposed to think of now? I hate how all of these companies are overreacting to the economy.
        • 6 Years Ago
        Honda leaving f1, Audi leaving LeMans and now this?!



        Repent! The end is near!
        • 6 Years Ago
        overracting, maybe, but seeing how we jumped all over the big 3 because of money handling, I would error on the side of caution
      • 6 Years Ago
      Once again, you should put someone else doing your rally news. Subaru has won a lot of stages since 2005, but hasn't one a single rally. Very different.

      WRC is dead to me now.
      • 6 Years Ago
      hey why don't they ditch the symmetrical AWD too while they're at it :)
      • 6 Years Ago
      Okay the spec engine thing might be to blame. But I am really worried about the future of Subaru based on recent decisions and the direction they are headed in.

      1) Toyota maker of all things bland now owns a big chunk of them and Fuji seems to be letting them run things.
      2) For the first time we are looking at a joint Toyota/Subaru model will likely not offer AWD.
      3) Bye, Bye WRC.

      I know it seems like a stretch right now but I am so afraid that 5 years from now Subaru is going to be selling rebaged FWD Toyota's with about as much rally credibility as a Yaris. The Japanese seem bound and determined to follow Detroit's mistakes and brand dilution is an easy one to make. Subarus without AWD and Rally backgrounds are just weird looking Toyotas.

      Please keep Subaru, Subaru.
        • 6 Years Ago
        Unfortunately, in Europe, they already do. The European Justy is little more than a rebadged Daihatsu.

        But fear not, everyone. In the press release quoted, FHI will still support P-WRC or Group N cars still, which means race engineering will trickle down to your WRXs and STis. Unless you bought an 08.....
      • 6 Years Ago
      If you ask me, this just makes the Rally America series much more attractive to many mani's as everything is road transported.

      Frankly, im excited!
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