VOLKSWAGEN WILL withdraw from the World Rally Championship (WRC) at the end of the 2016 season. The announcement, made by VW R&D boss Frank Welsch last week, brings to an end the most successful chapter in VW’s motorsport history. “Volkswagen is facing enormous challenges,” said Welsch in an address to employees at Volkswagen Motorsport. “With the expansion in electrification of our vehicle range, we must focus our efforts on future technologies.”
Welsch also confirmed a shift in focus towards customer racing programmes. “As well as the Golf GTITCR for the track and the Beetle GRC in rallycross, we want to develop a new Polo to R5 rally regulations,” he said.
Since entering the WRC in 2013, VW has won four successive manufacturer and driver titles. Commenting on the withdrawal, VW Motorsport director Sven Smeets said: “We regret the departure from the WRC.
The team has done great things.” Hinting that VW’s future competition plans could involve EVs, Smeets added: “From now on, the focus is on upcoming technologies in motorsport.” Insiders say VW is looking at a possible participation in the recently announced Global Electric Raliycross series.
VW’s decision to end its commitment to the WRC comes in the wake of the emissions scandal, which has already seen it pledge more than £10 billion to buy back or fix affected cars in the US and develop fixes for affected diesel models in other world markets.