Subaru has become the latest team to withdraw from the World Rally Championship as the economic downturn continues to hit the motor industry hard.
The announcement comes after Suzuki confirmed it would be pulling out of the 2009 season and Honda announced it would be withdrawing from Formula One, also as a result of the credit crunch.
The Banbury-based Subaru team has spent 20 years in the sport and won three constructors titles and three drivers titles with Colin McRae, Richard Burns and Petter Solberg.
An official statement on www.swrt.com - the Subaru world rally team website - read: "This sudden decision was in response to the widespread economic downturn that is affecting the entire automotive industry, and follows Suzuki's withdrawal."
David Richards, the chairman of Prodrive, which runs the Subaru team, said: "Subaru's departure from the World Rally Championship is a great loss as it is one of the sport's icons.
"The Subaru World Rally Team has created 1 champions and its absence will be felt by many the world over.
"Although this decision closes a significant chapter in Prodrive's history, our focus now turns to the future."
Subaru's exit leaves just two manufacturers, Citroen and Ford, in next year's championship.
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