Disillusioned after a lack of success at the very highest level, SEAT has decided to withdraw from the World Rally Championship at the end of the year.

The Spanish-run operation has taken the step in order to concentrate its resources on various national series, where it has had more success, and to save money that could be used in its road car division. The switch to the top WRC class has not had the desired effect of adding to the successive Two-Litre Cup crowns won by the Ibiza model between 1996 and 1998, and SEAT has had to watch rival marques share the glory with outright event wins.

A return to the world stage is on the cards in future years, but the company refuses to say in which discipline the comeback may be. With attention in the boardroom now focusing on improving the performance of current and forthcoming road models, rallying may not be the only option open to the name, particularly given parent company Volkswagen's current fascination with the sportscar classes.

The decision to withdraw from the WRC is thought likely to push former world champion Didier Auriol into the arms of Peugeot for 2001.

[Source: www.worldrallynews.com]