Mitsubishi Motors UK has confirmed that its two-car works rally team will not compete in the MSA British Rally Championship in 2009.
The Cirencester-based outfit blamed the 'current economic climate' and 'the subsequent pressures affecting the automotive industry as a whole' for its decision to withdraw from competition.
Team boss, Paul Brigden also added that the 'smaller issues' - no doubt a reference to the political shenanigans that dogged the BRC in 2008 and mean it has yet to be confirmed who won the drivers' and teams' titles, had no bearing on the decision. He also didn't rule out a return in 2010.
"As the most successful manufacturer-backed rally team in Britain in recent years it is disappointing to withdraw from competition this season. The deciding factor is purely due to the global economic downturn and nothing to do with the smaller issues that we have had to deal with recently," he confirmed.
"Since our UK rally programmes began, it has been the company's wish to participate in British motorsport. Therefore, if market conditions become more favourable, then we will explore every avenue in order to resurrect the works team and continue from where we left off. We would even consider a return in 2010 if circumstances permit.
"I would like to take this opportunity to thank everyone who has been involved with Mitsubishi's UK works rally programme: our crews, technicians, management team, sponsors and suppliers."
During the past five years, the Mitsubishi UK works team has regularly been at the front of the field. It claimed the national Production title in 2004 and the British Team's title in 2005, before going on to win the British Team's and Driver's titles in 2007 and 2008, the latter subject to the outcome of an MSA hearing in February.
Mitsubishi's one-make rally-series, the Mitsubishi Ralliart Evolution Challenge, meanwhile will continue as planned for its ninth consecutive season this year.
Once again, the official series for Group N Lancers will be aligning itself with the MSA Pirelli Gravel Rally Championship for six events - plus a round alongside the British Rally Championship. It has also been announced that the series will continue to offer a valuable prize fund.
In addition, having taken an interest in circuit racing during recent months, MMUK has stated that it will not officially participate in this form of motorsport until trading conditions improve. However, it has said that it will observe with interest the progress of the new Evo X Series, which was launched at the Autosport Show earlier this month.