GM's UK subsidiary Vauxhall has announced that its VX Racing unit will not return to the British Touring Car Championship (BTCC) in 2010.

Vauxhall said that the decision to withdraw from the BTCC in 2010 was influenced by the absence of other manufacturer-backed teams and "financial prudence in the current global economic downturn".

It also said it will "keep an option open for a possible return to the sport in future years".

Vauxhall also said the timing of today's announcement has been carefully considered in order to allow Vauxhall's key BTCC partner, Triple Eight Race Engineering, as much time as possible  to develop its future plans.

The company's BTCC race programme was rebranded from Vauxhall Motorsport to VX Racing in 2003, with the introduction of the VXR brand to the portfolio the following year.

Andy Gilson, marketing director, Vauxhall Motors, said: "The company has enjoyed immense success with BTCC, both on track and as a focal marketing activity for the VXR brand. However a number of factors have led us to take the decision to withdraw from the championship at the end of this season. Vauxhall's primary focus for next year will be bringing to market exciting new products, such as the new generation Astra and Meriva models.

"I would like to take this opportunity to thank Triple Eight Race Engineering for turning our road cars into some of the most successful BTCC entrants in its history. I would also like to thank the drivers who have piloted our cars to victory. I would like to think we can end our run in touring cars with another title-winning season."

BTCC series director Alan Gow said in a statement: "Given the extremely difficult financial position in which GM finds itself, it's inevitable that the company must make some drastic cutbacks in nearly all areas of its operations - and motor sport is certainly not immune, as we have witnessed in all major forms of our sport over the last 12 months.

"These are extraordinary times the world is going through and I'm sure everyone appreciates that some decisions, such as Vauxhall's, are certainly not a reflection of its desire... it's a direct result of the current market and financial climate.

"So whilst it's obviously very regrettable to see Vauxhall withdrawing from the BTCC next year, it's also perfectly understandable. I know that Vauxhall made this decision with a very heavy heart - and I would bet good money on the fact that, in time, we will see them back again in the BTCC.

"I certainly thank Vauxhall for their exceptional participation in the BTCC over so many years and wish them every success, particularly through these difficult times."