By JULIAN MOUNTER
British Leyland is to withdraw from motor sport, including rallying, to concentrate its efforts on its new model programme, it was announced yesterday. The decision was taken because of the steadily increasing cost of participation and the time senior executives, and engineers were having to devote.
The corporation estimated that sport was costing about £250,000 a year. British Leyland has had considerable rallying success in recent years, including second place with a 2.5PI Triumph in the London to Mexico World Cup rally, earlier this summer. But such ventures have become big business, with competing companies having to-fly dozens of mechanics and thousands of pounds worth of spares overseas Development and design executives must be continually consulted before and during an attempt to win any rally and in marathons like the London to Mexico and London to Sydney it encroaches heavily on other work.
The decision, the corporation says, will not preclude it from returning to sport sometime in the future. Mr. George Turnbull, deputy managing director, said the special tuning department at Abingdon would continue to function. The corporation is not heavily involved in motor racing and most of its cars which are successful are privately entered. The first of the new models is expected to be announced next spring.