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2012-12-05 07:38

ALMOST THE END: Petter Solberg drinks an early-morning coffee ahead of the second stage of the 48th Rally of Catalonia on November 10 2012. Image: AFP

ALAN BALDWIN

LONDON, England - Norway's 2003 World Rally champion Petter Solberg will not compete in the 2013 championship after 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.

W0RKS SUPPORT GONE

"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 in 2013," 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 2012 that it would withdraw works support from the championship. The M-Sport organisation that has run the factory team since 1997 will continue as a private entry on a limited budget.

Solberg's absence will leave the sport without any past champions competing for the title. France's Sebastien Loeb will drive in only a few events after winning nine championships in a row for Citroen.

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