After Audi announced its retirement from endurance racing last week, it’s Volkswagen’s turn to throw in the towel in WRC.
Volkswagen’s modern venture in racing began in 2013, when the Wolfsburg-based company entered FIA’s iconic WRC series with the Polo R WRC, and with Sebastian Ogier and Jari-Matti Latvala at the wheel. The formula brought them four consecutive Manufacturers’ and Drivers’ Championships, from 2013 to 2016, claiming 41 victories to date.
But VW’s reign in the sport is sadly over, as the car maker’s decision to focus on important future technologies led to its retirement from WRC, beginning with 2017.
“The Volkswagen brand is facing enormous challenges. 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, Member of the Board of Management responsible for Technical Development.
However, its motorsport program will continue through the customer racing series, the circuit-based Golf GTI TCR, and the rallycross Beetle GRC. Moreover, Volkswagen will even develop a new R5-spec Polo, and continue working with the 200 or so employees in its motorsport department.
And what about Ogier and Latvala? Well, they’re on the market and (probably) looking for a spot at Hyundai, M-Sport, Toyota, or Citroen.