Volkswagen will leave the World Rally Championship at the 2016 season, according to a report by Autosport, following four dominant years at the top of the series.
It follows the hugely damaging worldwide Dieselgate emissions scandal that hit VW last year, which has clearly been a factor in the group cutting back its motorsport involvement.
Last month the World Endurance Championship took a hard knock when it was announced that Audi will bow out at the end of the year, leaving a large gap in the LMP1 category.
The sun setting on VW’s WRC programme will have a similarly enormous impact, following the factory team’s four-year streak of championship success with the unstoppable force that is Sebastien Ogier.
The Australian round later this month will be VW’s last WRC event, as it looks to add another win to its current tally of 41.
According to Autosport’s sources, the decision was made at a board meeting on Tuesday morning at VW’s base in Wolfsburg. No official comment has been made but there are reports it will be made public on Wednesday.
VW had been testing and developing its 2017-spec Polo R WRC, a mad-sounding and aggressive-looking rally machine fitting the new regulations coming into force next year.
Sadly, we won’t see the 2017 Polo R WRC properly in action on a rally stage, as the VW Group has opted to scrap another of its motorsport programmes.
It also leaves four-time champion Ogier and rally winners Jari-Matti Latvala and Andreas Mikkelsen on the sidelines looking for drives next year.
The VW exit will hit the WRC hard, but thankfully we do have Toyota making a return with its mean-sounding Yaris WRC and Citroen coming back full-time with the C3 WRC.
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