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Mitsubishi in Dakar withdrawal

Osamu Masuko (right) and Hiizu Ichikawa
Osamu Masuko announces the Sombre news of Mitsubishi's cutbacks

World motorsports took another blow from the global economic crisis on Wednesday when Mitsubishi said it will no longer compete in the Dakar Rally.

"The sudden deterioration of the global economy made it necessary for the company to focus its resources more tightly," said a Mitsubishi statement.

The Japanese manufacturer said it would pull out of all cross country rallying.

Mitsubishi have won 12 Dakar Rallies, including seven consecutive victories between 2001-2007.

But the team endured a nightmare trip to Argentina and Chile in January when this year's event was staged there after the killing of four French tourists in Mauritania caused the cancellation of the 2008 rally.

Defending champion Stephane Peterhansel and his Mitsubishi teammates all pulled out in the first week as their new diesel-powered Lancers failed to match the pace of Volkswagen.

I mentioned last summer that the financial turmoil posed a major risk for us but the situation we find ourselves in right now is far worse than I ever expected

Mitsubishi president Osamu Masuko

On Wednesday, Mitsubishi reported a quarterly loss and said its annual result will plunge into the red for the first time in three years.

Japan's fourth-largest carmaker said its group net loss will amount to 60bn yen (465m) in the fiscal year through March 2009.

Mitsubishi president Osamu Masuko said: "I mentioned last summer that the financial turmoil posed a major risk for us but the situation we find ourselves in right now is far worse than I ever expected."

Other Japanese makers have also been scaling down their motorsports activities to cope with the auto industry crisis.

Honda, which has forecast huge losses, withdrew from Formula One to reduce costs amid a slump in global car sales.

Their departure from F1 was quickly followed by the withdrawal of rival carmakers Subaru and Suzuki from the world rally championship.

Japanese motorcycle maker Kawasaki also followed suit last month by pulling out of motorcycling's MotoGP championship.

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see also
De Villiers claims Dakar victory
18 Jan 09 |  Rallying
Spaniard in coma at Dakar Rally
13 Jan 09 |  Rallying
Motorcyclist dies at Dakar Rally
07 Jan 09 |  Rallying
Rally duo in hospital after crash
06 Jan 09 |  Rallying


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