Subaru recently announced it would not compete in the 2009 WRC Series due to economic concersn, however, new “no turbo” rules for 2011 would most likely have seen the Japanese automaker pull out anyway.
The World Rally Championship’s governing body, the FIA World Motor Sport Council has just confirmed that as of 2011 competing vehicles must use non-turbocharged naturally aspirated engines – a move that has series veteran and all-star Sébastien Loeb considering a new career path.
The new rules will allow for certain aerodynamic changes to the Super 2000 (or S2000) cars, however, the decision to move away from turbocharged powerplants was made to open up the series to more manufacturers – including Skoda, Abarth, Peugeot and Proton – by making it less expensive to run a competitive car.
These rules may also be to blame for other manufacturers leaving the series. Several months ago Subaru announced that it would not compete in the 2009 season, stating economic concerns, however, it is just as likely that the the company had no intention of running with the new rules (which don’t take effect until 2011).
Turbochargers are set to return to the series in 2013, but mated to smaller 1600c (1.6-liter) engines.
Five-time WRC Champion Sébastien Loeb, who’s contract with Citroën is up at the end of this season, has expressed his displeasure with the new rules and his desire to try his hand at other forms of motorsports.
“The excitement will not be the same,” Loeb told AutoWeek. I always said it would be better with the turbo, and this is how I feel.”
“We don’t have to decide anything until 2011,” he continued. “When that comes, maybe I can move to something more interesting.”
What exactly he might move to is the Le Mans series, as Loeb is already scheduled to test a Peugeot 908 HDi Le Mans prototype this year.
“Sébastien’s contract is up at the end of this year,” a Citroën source told AutoWeek. “There’s really nothing for him to prove to stay on in WRC. He has won every rally and broken every record. Maybe he can leave at the end of 2009 and start racing straight away next year.”
[Source: Autosport and AutoWeek]