Japan’s Suzuki Motor Corp. and Fuji Heavy Industries Ltd., the maker of Subaru cars, are pulling out of World Rally Championship racing due to falling sales caused by the global economic turmoil.

The two withdrawals leave only world champion Automobiles Citroen, owned by PSA Peugeot Citroen, and Ford Motor Co. entered for next year’s championship.

“Our business environment has rapidly deteriorated,” Fuji Heavy President Ikuo Mori tells a news conference. “To protect the Subaru brand we were forced to make this decision.”

Suzuki says in a statement it is reacting to slowing sales by reassessing its global production output. The auto maker says it doesn’t view the market downturn as a short-term phenomenon.

“To secure its own business environment for tomorrow, the organization reviews every aspect of the operations and decided to focus on the core business functions such as the manufacturing system, environment technologies, and development of new-generation powertrains,” it says.

The moves by Suzuki and Fuji come after Honda Motor Co. Ltd. shocks the motor racing world by announcing it is withdrawing from all Formula One activities after 2008 and Audi AG pulls its factory racing team, Audi Sport North America, from the American Le Mans Series (ALMS) for 2009.