As parent company General Motors tries to stem the flood of money escaping from their coffers, Vauxhall have just announced they will be quitting the BTCC championship at the end of the 2009 season.
Vauxhall was the one remaining manufacturer team in the championship so the news should not come as a surprise, but it will be a big disappointment to fans. While difficult to understand from a PR perspective, the move does make sense when GM are trying to find buyers for the Vauxhall/Opel group, and cutting motorsport-related costs will make the group a lot more attractive to potential buyers.
Quite how this will affect the BTCC remains to be seen. Vauxhall is a high-profile competitor, but the number of privateer teams is also high and competition remains fierce.
This will also affect Triple Eight Engineering, the company responsible for running Vauxhall’s BTCC team. They have worked closely with Vauxhall over the last few years and have been instrumental in achieving so much success in the BTCC. Triple Eight are also known for tuning Vauxhall’s road cars, most recently the 888 Corsa VXR and 888 Astra VXR.
The one bright note out of this is that Vauxhall have not ruled out a return to the championship in the future, but the way the car industry is struggling at the moment I can’t see that being anytime soon.
The offical press release follows:
VAUXHALL TO DEPART BTCC AT END OF 2009 SEASON
17 April 2009…/Vauxhall announced today that VX Racing will not return to the British Touring Car Championship in 2010. The Luton-based manufacturer, the most successful in modern touring cars history, will continue to campaign three cars this year, driven by Fabrizio Giovanardi, Matt Neal and Andrew Jordan.
The decision to withdraw from the BTCC in 2010 was influenced by the absence of other manufacturer-backed teams and financial prudence in the current global economic downturn. While the company regrets having to leave the BTCC for 2010, it will keep an option open for a possible return to the sport in future years.
The timing of today’s announcement has been carefully considered in order to allow Vauxhall’s key BTCC partner, Triple Eight Race Engineering, as much time as possible to develop their future plans..
Triple Eight has been a successful partner with Vauxhall over the last 13 years, with the team recently celebrating its 100th win with VX Racing earlier this month, having taken Vauxhall to seven manufacturer titles in the last eight years, with the Astra Coupé, Astra Sport Hatch VXR and the Vectra VXR.
The company’s BTCC race programme was rebranded from Vauxhall Motorsport to VX Racing in 2003, with the introduction of the VXR brand to the portfolio the following year.
Andy Gilson, Marketing Director, Vauxhall Motors explains, “The company has enjoyed immense success with BTCC, both on track and as a focal marketing activity for the VXR brand. 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.’’
“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. 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.”