French manufacturers Peugeot and Citroën have announced that they will not be competing in the World Rally Championship beyond 2005, citing tough conditions in the car market as reasons for the withdrawal.

French manufacturers Peugeot and Citroën have announced that they will not be competing in the World Rally Championship beyond 2005, citing tough conditions in the car market as reasons for the withdrawal.

In the past five years, the sister manufacturers have combined to win five manufacturers’ and three drivers’ titles, but blamed the current cut-throat automotive environment for the review of their WRC involvement.

In a statement, the PSA Peugeot Citroën group said: “In five consecutive years of competition in the World Rally Championship, Peugeot and Citroën have won five manufacturers’ titles and three drivers’ titles. These results reflect the diligent, passionate determination of each marque, backed by a substantial financial commitment to motor sports competition.

"Due to tougher conditions in the car market, new opportunities in motorsports will be reviewed in 2005, with a view to enabling the Group to significantly cut its sports budgets. Peugeot and Citroën will remain strongly committed to the World Rally Championship in 2005.

“However, PSA Peugeot Citroën has decided that the marques will no longer take part in the WRC beyond that date. At the appropriate time, Citroën Sport and Peugeot Sport will announce the sports in which they will participate after 2005."

This announcement comes just days after Ford confirmed that it would be committing to WRC for another four years.

The double withdrawal will leave the championship with just a handful of factory-supported teams in 2006. Subaru, Mitsubishi and Skoda should join Ford, although the three have not yet confirmed their commitment to the championship beyond 2005.

However, the withdrawal of Peugeot and Citroën will leave several top drivers, including multiple world champion, Marcus Gronholm and newly-crowned champion, Sébastien Loeb, looking for new jobs.