In more ways than one Volkswagen’s arrival to the World Rally Championship scene will be very significant, and regardless of the outcome of their first rally in Sardinia later this year I am sure they will be the breath of fresh air, so badly needed by the WRC in general.
There are rumours going around mentioning outrageous amounts of money, allegedly allocated by Volkswagen to their WRC programme, but I’m not sure what is the point of those rumours exactly. Are they suggesting Volkswagen plans to conquer the stages and rallies with money alone?
It’s pretty odd to think like that and especially knowing how long it took Volkswagen to finally decide to pursue WRC instead of very tempting Formula 1. And what exactly is wrong with company setting their goals high and also supporting that with enough money to keep the things running and results coming? I really can’t see what could be bothering anyone in WRC community enough to claim this is actually bad for the sport.
Was Volkswagen supposed to arrive to the WRC like BMW did with their prized premium retro whatnot brand Mini? They took the legendary brand, brought it back to the series that made it so popular and then did what they did with it. Yes, they’re still working with Prodrive and sure they all mean well and if planets align and sponsors arrive we will be seeing full factory assault by Mini in the year… well, some year.
Instead of picking “let’s do this and see what happens” approach, Volkswagen went all clever about ther money and their image, both of which do not come cheap these days, even for Volkswagen. It remains to be seen what they did with their money so far, hopefully we’ll be able to get a clearer picture in Sardinia, but I am quite certain they will be major contender next year.
If there is anything to worry about with regards to WRC and it’s teams, it’s the state of current two squads. Citroën is looking to cut down costs of their own financial involvement with their team, and Ford is looking, well, for a solid reason or two to keep competing in the first place. Situation is very similar to that on the car market in Europe, where Volkswagen is still going strong while many other brands are going through tough times. A perfect setting for full on assault by South Korea and their Hyundai/Kia. Both brands are not taking prisoners in Europe and their latest models are clearly not aimed at entry levels – instead they’re ready to challenge the big one, Volkswagen.
With all that in mind, and with the possible arrival of Hyundai to the WRC battlefields in near future, it’s only natural that Volkswagen comes prepared and hits the ground running (which is sort of a stupid phrase as proven by Mythbusters, afaik). There is also Citroën, arguably the strongest and most robust team ever built – if it does not get sacrificed by announced PSA Peugeot Citroën cuts, this will be Volkswagen’s first and extremely hard target. And one does not simply enter WRC and starts winning – not with Citroën around.
Also, someone care to ask Ford or Citroën about the amount of cash they spent building their teams over the last 5 years. Let’s say 5 years is enough. By bringing loads of cash up front, Volkswagen is presumably just looking to keep everything running smoothly, both on stages and in factory – they certainly don’t plan to spend 3 or 4 years just warming up and learning their way around the WRC.
And lastly, wasn’t it Toyota that came to Formula 1 armed with the biggest wallets of them all? They had money all right, but all they got in return was humiliation and total defeat. If that is what some people think Volkswagen is capable of doing, I beg to differ.