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Fuji Heavy Industries (FHI), the maker of Subaru vehicles, has announced the withdrawal of Subaru World Rally Team (SWRT) from the World Rally Championship (WRC).

FHI has participated in the WRC over the past 19 years together with Prodrive, a United Kingdom-based motorsports and automotive engineering group.

SWRT won three manufacturers championships and three driver’s championships, which FHI says helped enhance the value of the Subaru brand, as well as the sales expansion of its vehicles worldwide.
However, FHI says the business environment has dramatically changed due to the quick deterioration of the global economy.

In order to optimise management resources and further strengthen the Subaru brand, FHI decided to withdraw from the WRC.

FHI will continue to support teams and drivers that participate in the Production World Rally Championship, or the Group N category.

The President and Chief Executive Officer of Fuji Heavy Industries, Mr Ikuo Mori, said reaching the decision had been an extremely difficult task, not least with regard to the countless Subaru fans that for many years have cheered the legendary Subaru blue 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,” he said.

Nick Senior, Managing Director, Subaru Australia, said: “While sad, the brave decision by Mr Mori reflects the seriousness of the global economic conditions.

“I applaud Mr Mori on his leadership in making this strong decision, which was obviously a difficult and emotional one, given our long and successful heritage in the sport.”

FHI has not commented on any future arrangements regarding current SWRT drivers Petter Solberg and Australian Chris Atkinson.

Subaru World Rally Team achievements:

1990 -  Start full scale entry to WRC from Safari Rally, with the Legacy, known in Australia as Liberty
1993 - Legacy won first overall at Rally New Zealand
1994 - full participation in WRC
1995-1997 - won the WRC Manufacturers crown three times consecutively
1995 - Colin McRae won WRC1995 Driver's title
2001 - Richard Burns won WRC2001 Driver's title
2003 - Petter Solberg won WRC2003 Driver's title

After it started participation in the WRC in 1990, Subaru achieved 47 wins in 19 seasons.
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