The decision has been made concerning the future of the Volkswagen World Rally Championship team, and it’s reportedly not good. Sources within the company told Autocar that Volkswagen has decided to end its incredibly dominant participation in the World Rally Championship after this season.
Some 200 employees of the Volkswagen Motorsport team will be affected, however, the board has decided to retain them and redirect them to other efforts. Autocar writes:
In a meeting held in Wolfsburg on Tuesday morning, the German car maker’s board vowed to retain the 200 employees at its Volkswagen Motorsport division, with plans for them to focus on the VW Golf TCR customer car and other motorsport programmes within the Volkswagen Group, possibly including Skoda’s rally programme.
This is at least some good news, as Skoda’s rally program has proven invaluable to talented racers moving up towards a WRC drive, and of course, it confirms that at least something motorsport-wise is sticking around despite rising costs from the Dieselgate scandal.
The only issue now is that there are fewer teams for up-and-coming drivers to move up to with Volkswagen withdrawing and leaving three very talented drivers—Andreas Mikkelsen, Jari-Matti Latvala and Sébastien Ogier—on the market.
An official announcement on the future of the team will be made once the affected staff have been notified, and that is expected to land Wednesday, per Autocar’s sources.
Volkswagen’s withdrawal comes after four straight years of dominating the world’s top class in rallying, with four consecutive championships both as a manufacturer and for driver Sébastien Ogier. The final Australian round of this season will be Volkswagen’s last rally in WRC.
Sadly, this also means that the 2017 Polo WRC car that was under development won’t be making any more appearances. Autocar writes:
Despite developing an all-new Polo WRC to 2017 WRC regulations, Volkswagen does not intend to provide it to customer teams.
“The costs involved in developing the 2017 car will be absorbed into the existing R&D budget. There are no plans to offer it through a customer programme. It will be mothballed,” Autocar’s source revealed.
I hate to see a rally car just sit like that. We’ll hoon it, Volkswagen. Send it here.