Rallying-No place for ex-champion Solberg in 2013 championship

LONDON Tue Dec 4, 2012 12:51pm GMT

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LONDON Dec 4 (Reuters) - Norway's 2003 world rally champion Petter Solberg will not compete in next year's championship following the withdrawal of Ford as a works team.

The 38-year-old, who won his title with Subaru, said in a statement on Tuesday that he was saddened to call an end to his time in the championship - for the time being - after 15 years and 188 starts.

"I would have loved to have driven for a few more years but I do realise there will not be a WRC programme for me next year," said the Norwegian, who ran his own team for three years after Subaru pulled out in 2008.

"I have said I am willing to drive for free, but at this point I will not pay to drive."

Ford announced in October they were withdrawing works support from the championship, with the M-Sport organisation that has run the factory team since 1997 continuing as a private entry on a limited budget.

Solberg's absence will leave the sport without any past champions competing for the title, with France's Sebastien Loeb doing only a limited number of events after winning nine championships in a row with Citroen. (Reporting by Alan Baldwin, editing by Josh Reich)

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