It’s Official: Volkswagen Out of Rally to Focus on New Technologies

Rumors of Volkswagen’s departure from the top rung of the World Rally Championship yesterday are now being confirmed by an official release from Volkswagen.

The record setting Polo R WRC will no longer race as VW refocuses itself on customer and electric racing.

“The Volkswagen brand is facing enormous challenges,” says Frank Welsch, head of technical development. “With the upcoming expansion in electrification of our vehicle range we must focus all our efforts on important future technologies.”

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After four years in the WRC, Volkswagen Motorsport managed to win four manufacturers’ championships, four drivers’ championships, and four co-drivers’ championships, a feat only accomplished by one other team (Citroen) in World Rally history.

“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,”  says Welsch.

As reported yesterday, VW will focus its efforts on customer racing in the form of the Golf GTI TCR, released earlier this year, and on the American Red Bull Global Rallycross Beetle GRC. The team has also revealed that it will look into expanding its activities in the series, which just announced an all-electric racing class.

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On top of those, Volkswagen has announced that it will build a new Polo to R5 specifications. The new Polo will pick up from the outgoing Polo R WRC to race in WRC2.

Unlike the departing Polo R WRC, the Polo R5 (not an official name) will race against two-wheel-drive customer cars. All cars in the R5 class are powered by a 1.6-liter turbocharged engine with a 32mm restrictor, using a 5-speed gearbox, with a price capped at 180,000 Euros.

Although VW says that it will benefit from the Polo R WRC, it will be racing against its stablemate, the Skoda Fabia, which currently leads the Teams’ championship in WRC2. The Polo R5 will begin racing in 2018.

“I want to give our heartfelt thanks to our drivers and co-drivers for their outstanding achievements,” says Welsch. “They are not only unbelievably quick, but also extremely effective ambassadors for the Volkswagen brand.”

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