One of the British Touring Car Championship's powerhouse operations will be looking to bow out with a bang this season, as Vauxhall has revealed that works team VX Racing will not return in 2010.
The decision to withdraw has, not unexpectedly, been influenced by 'financial prudence in the current global economic downturn', but also by the absence of manufacturer-backed opposition against which Vauxhall would gain kudos for its success. The exit, however, is currently a temporary one, with Vauxhall keeping its options open with regard to a possible VX Racing return 'in future years'.
The Luton-based manufacturer has established itself as the most successful in modern touring car history - having racked up seven manufacturer titles in the last eight years with the Astra Coupé, Astra Sport Hatch VXR and the Vectra VXR - and will continue to campaign the three cars, driven by Fabrizio Giovanardi, Matt Neal and Andrew Jordan, this year, but cannot sustain the cost of competing without reward.
“The company has enjoyed immense success with BTCC, both on track and as a focal marketing activity for the VXR brand," Vauxhall Motors marketing director Andy Gilson explained, "However, a number of factors have led us to take the decision to withdraw from the championship at the end of this season. Vauxhall's primary focus for next year will be bringing to market exciting new products, such as the new generation Astra and Meriva models."
Gilson added that the timing of the announcement - which, following SEAT's exit at the end of 2008, will leave the BTCC without a manufacturer-entered team - has been carefully considered in order to allow partner Triple Eight Race Engineering as much time as possible to develop other plans for the plans. The two parties have raced together for the past 13 years, with Triple Eight recently celebrating its 100th win with VX Racing.
"I would like to take this opportunity to thank Triple Eight Race Engineering for turning our road cars into some of the most successful BTCC entrants in its history," he noted, "I would also like to thank the drivers who have piloted our cars to victory. I would like to think we can end our run in touring cars with another title-winning season."