It appears the 2017 VW Polo has reached the end of the road. Yesterday the FIA announced that the 2017 VW Polo would not be eligible to compete in the WRC. There was hope that a waiver might be passed that would allow the VW Polo to be homologated without being associated with a factory team. However, the FIA decided that the current WRC regulations could not be circumvented to allow this to happen.
Personally, I agree with this decision. Homologation has been and continues to be an important of the WRC. If one exception was made for the VW, it would most certainly open up a can of worms for the championship in the future. If the 2017 VW Polo was allowed to run, it would be very tempting for other manufacturers to try to enter cars through waivers without making a full-fledged factory commitment to the WRC. Yes, this would allow for (possibly) more cars, but it would also lead to a lack of standardization. We could possibly see “real” factory efforts running alongside of “pseudo” factory teams. There’s already a place for manufacturers to enter cars without a factory program, and that’s the R5 class in the WRC2. We don’t need to extend this to the premier class of the WRC.
My one concern in all of this is for Andreas Mikkelsen. I’m hoping that he did not put all of his eggs in the 2017 VW Polo basket in the weeks leading up to this decision. Every story that I have read and heard about this possible VW Polo homologation made it seem like it was being done on a wing and a prayer. It was very unlikely that sufficient funding would appear, and even if it did, it was also unlikely that the other manufacturers and the FIA would go against the WRC rule book to allow such an exception. With this in mind, I’m hoping very much that Andreas saw how much of a long shot this was going to be and perhaps has some contingency plans lined up. If not, he might be stuck in an R5 car for the foreseeable future.
Original article from Motorsport.com below:
Volkswagen’s 2017-specification Polo R WRC will not be allowed to compete in the World Rally Championship, after a ruling passed by the FIA on Tuesday.
Having missed the original January 1 deadline, Volkswagen Motorsport had hoped to gain a late homologation for the car from the governing body to allow the Polo to be used by private teams in the WRC.
A manufacturers’ meeting in Monaco last month raised more questions about how such an extraordinary ruling could work and, despite a fortnight of meetings between the FIA and Volkswagen, the decision is not to allow the car to be homologated.
Volkswagen Motorsport director Sven Smeets explained the situation, saying: “Following customer inquiries, Volkswagen Motorsport asked the FIA for a waiver of the homologation of the 2017 Volkswagen Polo World Rally Car, with the purpose being to rent it out to private drivers and teams.
“It now turns out that this is not possible under the current WRC regulations.
“We fully accept the result, but at the same time regret it in the interests of our customers. We would like to thank the FIA for the very constructive discussions.”
Volkswagen Motorsport’s plans to provide its 2016-specification cars remain unaffected by this decision.
Volkswagen withdrew from the WRC at the end of last season, ending its unbroken run of world championship dominance stretching back to 2013.