Volkswagen has suddenly quit WRC just days after collecting their 12th World Rally title in just 4 years. Autocar reports that this decision was reached during a meeting on Tuesday morning where the board plans to retain 200 employees within the VW Motorsport division. The official announcement will be made public tomorrow after all employees have been notified of the sudden change.
VW’s departure from WRC follows Audi’s decision to quit WEC after the 2016 season, a move tied to the repercussions of the diesel gate and its costs. While Audi will be focusing on Formula E and DTM, VW plans to shift its attention towards the Golf TCR programme as well as Skoda rallying division.
The 2017 WRC season will see a drastic change in regulations, aerodynamic freedom will increase allowing cars to adopt radical exterior aids such as massive rear wings. Toyota will make a comeback to World Rally Championship in 2017 with the Yaris WRC, Citroen will also make a full comeback to the rally after competing partially in 2016. M-Sport and Hyundai are the two other teams expected to take part in the forthcoming season.
Group B reborn – 2017 Toyota Yaris WRC pic.twitter.com/dHHPZOFVQQ
— Karanja Earl Simmons (@Earlsimxx) October 24, 2016
VW has already tested their 2017 car but following today’s decision, the project will be shelved. “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,” a source revealed to Autocar.
For frontman Sebastien Ogier, Australia will be the last round for him in WRC with VW Motorsport. Given this is the peak of his career, there are quite a number of options ready to absorb his talent including World Rallycross and Formula E.