There are many different motor sport series out there, some of them are big and popular, some are small but growing and gaining popularity fast. For car manufacturer the decision to launch a motor sport programme is a big one, huge even, especially if we’re talking official manufacturer status thingy. Of course, this is a rallying blog and that means I’d like to see all manufacturers join World Rally Championship, but despite WRC’s growing popularity and some very good progress made in the promotion aspect, several other disciplines present a very serious threat to the pinnacle rallying series on the planet. For example, World Touring Car Championship (WTCC) or World Rallycross Championship (World RX), to name a few. Currently, Volkswagen, Hyundai and Citroën are involved in the WRC as manufacturer teams and M-Sport is still acting as the brand-shield for Ford. Toyota would like to join as well, but that will probably depend on whether WRC decides to undergo some changes similar to how Formula 1 switched to current engines and tech to make Mercedes happy and willing to stay involved. But who’s next? Opel, perhaps?
I did ask them for an interview on this very topic. They were very keen about it, but when I dispatched the questions there was no reply. I am not sure if I asked the wrong questions (I always make sure to include the option for them to simply ignore the offending question, if they find one) or did they switch to ignore mode because I originally said it would be few questions only to send 10+. Whatever. They’re moving on with Opel cup competition in Germany and they’re also taking part in European Rally Championship in some capacity. Next year should be about the switch from Adam to something bigger, which in Opel’s terms means Corsa, a B segment car, but personally I have no idea what their plans are and whether everything they announced two years ago is still being pursued.
Opel CEO Karl-Thomas Neumann recently did a Q&A session on Twitter and I thought of asking a question about Opel’s motor sports plans. Here’s what Mr Neumann said in his replies.
— Karl-Thomas Neumann (@KT_Neumann) April 9, 2014
It doesn’t sound like much, does it? Not in terms of length of Opel CEO’s replies but in the contents. On the other hand, to me that sounds like a more elaborate programme for the next step and for me the next step coulb be one or more of the following: building a R3 spec car around Corsa, or something more elaborate, such as R5 machine, maybe even full on attack at WRC level. Again, this probably will not happen before 2017 and the new long-term rules phase. The R5 class is interesting with Ford and two PSA cars, but how interesting this class is for new manufacturer? The R5 development takes years and manufacturers like Volkswagen and Hyundai did not want to take part in R5 or any other minor class or category for that matter.
So in the end, what is Opel going to do about their rally plans? Beats me, but as long as they’re talking about it, there is hope. Speaking of hope, I hope they will do more than just a national or semi-international cup competition coupled with some ERC outings. We want to see Corsa right there with Polo, Fiesta, i20 and DS3.