It’s finally decided. Volkswagen confirmed its exit from the FIA World Rally Championship (WRC) yesterday following a board meeting where the issue was discussed.
This came after one of its many brands Audi’s withdrawal from the FIA World Endurance Championship and Le Mans a month ago, not at all like Audi, VW is leaving with a major victory – the group has quite recently obtained its fourth consecutive award at Rally GB, and star driver Seb Ogier wrapped up his fourth straight drivers’ title in Spain. Four in four since 2013 for both man and group, with 42 wins from 51 revives. Motorsports fans can point the finger at Dieselgate for the prominent ways out.
“With the upcoming expansion in electrification of our vehicle range we must focus all our efforts on important future technologies. We far exceeded our sporting goals in the WRC, now we are realigning Volkswagen Motorsport and moving the vehicle technology of the future more starkly into focus,” said Frank Welsch, Volkswagen’s board member responsible for technical development.
“I want to give our heartfelt thanks to our drivers and co-drivers for their outstanding achievements,” said Welsch, who added there was a guarantee of employment for the 200 Volkswagen Motorsport staff.
While the production line WRC group and the officially created 2017 Polo R WRC will be scoured off, VW will begin to build up another race car in light of the cutting edge Polo. It will be qualified for the WRC 2 class and will be accessible for clients by 2018.
“Volkswagen is going to focus more on customer racing. As well as the Golf GTI TCR on the circuit track and the Beetle GRC in rallycross, we also want to offer customers top products and will develop a new Polo according to R5 regulations,” Welsch said.
“Of course, we regret the departure from the WRC very much as this was the most successful chapter in the Volkswagen brand’s motorsport history. The team has done great things. At the same time, our vision is firmly ahead, because we are aware of the great challenges facing the entire company. We want our realignment to contribute to the success of the Volkswagen brand,” said team director Sven Smeets, who will oversee the team’s final appearance at Rally Australia this month.
“From now on, the focus is on upcoming technologies in motorsport and on our customer sports range, where we will position ourselves more broadly and attractively,” he added.
With VW’s departure, next year will see the 2017 Hyundai i20 WRC, Ford Fiesta WRC, Citroen C3 WRC and the returning Toyota with its Yaris WRC battle for honours without the target they set out to dethrone.