No more Volkswagen romance

Year and a half down the road, and it’s finally time to give others a chance to express their opinions and ideas about the WRC. And what a first guest writer! Miroslav Zrnčević – Mrgud, drifter, writer, on-call mechanic, wielder of many jokes and wits. He decided to put some of his thoughts down on paper and the result is right here. What helped Volkswagen achieve their instant success this year? What should Hyundai take from it and use to promote its own project? Read on!

Now, I am not a rally driver, nor am I an engineer or a manager who can teach Mr Nadan a lesson or two about running a world rally team, but I have been writing about WRC for quite some time now and I do know what rally fans love, and what they don’t (at least I like to think I do). So with a pretty good idea what is not good marketing wise in the early stage of development, I totally went on a rant with the early stage videos from Hyundai WRC team. They were rock bottom in rally fan world because they tried to make it look fast and competent. You don’t do that. Let’s face it, people that are not into rallying don’t have to know about you until you are about to start on the first SS, because – they don’t follow things that long. They are instant fans.

What you do need in the early stage is get the core fans, get rally fans to love you. And Hyundai already has that romantic story around them. You know… They tried, it didn’t work as they wanted, but they tried hard, and now they are back, in the right moment – when the rally is on skinny legs.

Citroen is almost on their way out (WTCC people, c’mon, put two and two together, they won’t stay too long to get too much beating of Volkswagen, if they see the magic is really gone with Seb – they will pack up and go, they have a great excuse). Ford is gone since this year (say howdy, get rowdy for Mr Wilson, standing ovation, that man is a hero), and VW only just started their crusade. If Abu Dhabi wasn’t here, we’d be all watching… well nothing, because FIA has enough problems with coverage and timing of WRC like it is now… (can’t help to say… what if money was no object…).

But if you think Hyundai will do the same thing next year, that Volkswagen did this year – you cannot be more wrong. This year Ogier will be champion, Volkswagen will win it. And this instant success won’t happen again. No matter how much money Hyundai got. Why? Well we all almost forgot that Volkswagen didn’t start midseason last year, maybe yes with Polo body but the car was developed much before that, and the team had a full year (or four) to prep to work as a team, and to collect experience.

Did you all forget the Škoda IRC programe? Oh, and in case somebody says it’s different teams, and that VW only ask them for advice… and that VW Motorsport were noobs when they started, I will agree and ask this: Capito, Sainz, Demaison, Ogier, Latvala, Mikkelsen… Who of those guys is a noob? Should I continue with the names?
So what Volkwagen did was not only bring a lot of money, put it into the WRC slot machine that went – BINGO and started ringing – but they took everybody that is anybody from WRC Top Gun school of rally arts.

Let’s run you through them in a jiffy. Capito, well, that guy started in BMW, building M3 cars (in the 1980’s), than ran an F1 team (Sauber), and was head of Ford’s European motorsport operation… Noob? Hm. Then Sainz, Mr Motorsport. He did it all in WRC, from Toyota, Ford, Subaru, Citroen to Volkswagen in the Dakar, a true professional and full of WRC wisdom. Who is Demaison you might ask… Well you know that guy that walks around with a laptop behind Ogier’s back when he is giving interviews for the TV? He is THE man to have in the team to set your car up (chief engineer), and he did so for Petter Solberg when that guy was world champion (in fact the last WRC champion (2003) before the Loeb era). Ogier is the man backed up by the French motorsport federation (FFSAE), he actually owes them money, and has to be champion. It is safe to say he is the most motivated driver there. So VW put the perfect recipe and ingredients before they went to the “World Rally Chefs”. Oh, except Latvala, that will probably get sacked after this year, it’s too bad, but too many drivers want his seat, and would do better.

All aside, I love the idea of Hyundai WRC, and i hope they make it and they win the championship, because it would make the whole WRC more interesting. So be patient and show them support. They mean serious business and they are (as we can all see) hard workers! They have my vote.

Catch up with Mrgud on Twitter.