That’s a right nice Merry Christmas for Petter Solbereg & Chris Atkinson, Subaru just fired them … OK, not fired them, but it just recently came out that Subaru has decided to not compete in the WRC (the World Rally Championship) any longer.
They site the usual reasons these days: World economic downturn.
But there’s more to it than meets the eye. See what that is, after the jump.
Yes, racing is expensive, and yes, there is suddenly a lot more money to around today than there was a few months ago (I thought banks were supposed to be good with money?), but I think Subaru’s departure has more to do than just a lack of funds.
I think it’s a lot closer to what Honda recently went through. Sure, it has a lot to do with balance sheets, but also look at it this way: Subaru hasn’t won a championship since Solberg’s in 03 (I think) and they haven’t won so much as a stage since something like 05 or 06. Would you want to sink in million of dollars to, in effect, not win? Didn’t think so.
Also, consider that the FIA just said that as of next year, the WRC will run cars built to new rules (what’s generically referred to as Spec 2000). Subaru doesn’t even make a street car that could be used as a basis for a new for 2009 rally car. This put Subaru in the position of having to make some sort of street car, AND turn it into a rally car, all within the next 2 and a half months.
In other words, Subaru suddenly found themselves in the position of having to spend even more money, just to play the game, and probably not even contest for wins any time soon.
So, adios WRC program.
There IS a bright side to all this however.
ProDrive, the folks that used to run the WRC program for the Subaru factory are now free to do other things. ProDrive is owned and run by Dave Richards. Dave Richards has, for a long time, wanted to run his own F1 team. And hey, wouldn’t you know it, Honda has an F1 team – cars, wind tunnel, Cad/Cam computers, the lot – that they’re no longer using, and would be happy to part with for a reasonable fee.
Subaru might be off the stages, but Dave Richards is far from out.