Pirelli Considering WRC Quit

After Bridgestone, another important tire manufacturer announced it may quit a FIA-sanctioned competition in the near future. While the Japanese tire manufacturer already announced it will no longer supply the F1 teams with tires from 2011 onwards, their Italian counterpart Pirelli is scrutinizing their potential extension with the FIA regarding their operations in the World Rally Championship.

Pirelli's contract with the WRC is also to run out at the end of 2010, and motorsport director Paul Hembery admitted that his company is unlikely to invest the same amount of money in their WRC-related project from that point on.

He named the current economic crisis as one of the reasons for the company's sudden change of plans (non-official change of strategy for the time being), as Pirelli has been very affected by the crisis through 2009.

We'll sit down and look at the document, but the world has changed significantly since the last time we made our proposal to the FIA,” said Hembery on the potential extension to their WRC deal from 2011 onwards, as shown in a report from Autosport website.

We will study the interest in the sport and gauge the effect of our current supply contract to the WRC. I can then present to the board of Pirelli, but it's not a given that we will get the nod from them. Don't forget, we've had to close factories, lay people off and sometimes the sport has to come second. This is purely a financial thing,” added the Pirelli official.

Although he admitted it would be a hard decision to pull out of the sport at the end of next season, Hembery revealed it won't be his call, but the board of directors'. Despite the multitude of projects Pirelli was part of during their collaboration with the WRC – the Pirelli Star Driver programme being the most important – the financial state of the company will count more in the decision-making process.

Should Pirelli indeed go through with the quit, it is expected French manufacturer Michelin to step in, though their BFGoodrich brand.
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