Terrible news! SEAT has announced it has withdrawn its factory team from the World Touring Car Championship.
The Spanish arm of the Volkswagen group has been mired in speculation about its ongoing involvement in the FIA’s premier touring car championship since the end of the 2008 season, but has finally confirmed everyone’s worst fears.
SEAT’s customer teams, however, will still be able to operate with support from the manufacturer.
SEAT Sport director Jaime Puig said, "After achieving all possible successes in the WTCC, we are now going to focus all our efforts on customer sports in different championships.
"We are always eager to win when a SEAT is on the track and to do so, SEAT Sport will provide all of our customers with the necessary technical support."
SEAT won the last two WTCC titles with Yvan Muller and Gabriele Tarquini, but has been at the centre of an ongoing row over the equalisation of its turbo diesel Leons with the category’s normally-aspirated petrol machinery run by rival manufacturers throughout both seasons.
Its Leon TDIs were granted a variable limit to their turbo boost pressure in the first three races of 2009, provoking rival manufacturer BMW to threaten to quit the series when it learned of the waiver. The limit was then reduced, prompting SEAT to issue its own quit threats.
A statement from the manufacturer added, "SEAT will continue with a noteworthy presence in motorsport in 2010 but the company will have a different approach as regards to its motorsport activity."
As yet, there has been no word on the fate of the team’s four current drivers: former F1 drivers Gabriele Tarquini, Jordi Gene, Tiago Monteiro and Rickard Rydell – the team’s fifth driver, Yvan Muller, has already transferred to the rival RML Chevrolet team.