VW Withdraws from WRC

Unable to justify continuing to spend on a multi million pound motorsport budget to go rallying when the diesel emissions scandal is costing Volkswagen billions is cited as the reason that the German manufacturer has decided to pull the plug on its WRC programme from the end of the 2016 season. The well structured Hanover company can invariably stand the cost but it is actually an issue of their perceived public image depicting jubilant drivers in designer Volkswagen overalls spraying champagne over the adoring crowd.

Since it arrived in the WRC for the 2013 season Volkswagen has won twelve titles and been good news for the championship and rally fans and their withdrawal will mean ramifications for the WRC on loosing one of its most enthusiastic supporters and investors. When, in 2011 Volkswagen announced its decision to contest the world championship, it gave the WRC a massive boost at a time when the series really needed good news. One of the world's biggest and best car manufacturers testing its mettle in rallying and the company has worked tirelessly to improve not only its own image, but the image of the WRC.

What then for its current drivers? Team leader Ogier could see this break as the natural conclusion to his successful career given that he always said he doesn't intend to stay forever and is known to be unhappy and frustrated with the rules and regulations. If he stays he would find a drive in the championship, most likely with his former employer Citroen, who although having three drivers for next season would have scope within driver contracts to accommodate another top name.

There's also a mutual admiration between Malcolm Wilson and Ogier and they talked about a possible deal towards the end of 2011 and have remained close ever since. It would be interesting to see the world champion spend a season in the ever improving Ford Fiesta RS WRC. As for Jari Matti Latvala and Andreas Mikkelsen, it would seem that Toyota, Citroen or M-Sport are their only escape route for 2017 but anything is possible and smaller privateer teams could be a solution. All this kicks off just at a time when the WRC driver market looked signed, sealed and delivered for next season!

7th November, 2016