Dieselgate Could Kill Volkswagen's Ultra-Dominant World Rally Championship Team

Photo credit: @World/Red Bull Content Pool
Photo credit: @World/Red Bull Content Pool

The future of Volkswagen’s insanely successful World Rally Championship team will be determined at a meeting in Wolfsburg tomorrow, reports Autocar. Could Volkswagen Motorsport’s rally effort be the next program after Audi’s Le Mans team to be axed in light of Dieselgate’s rising costs?


Given that Sébastien Ogier’s win of the Wales Rally GB this weekend just gave Volkswagen their fourth World Rally Championship manufacturer’s title in a row after Ogier had already sealed his fourth driver’s title in a row, Volkswagen’s WRC squad seemed like the last program that would face the axe in light of Dieselgate. Volkswagen reentered the highest level of rallying in 2011 and signed on as a full-time manufacturer entry in 2013, racking up an impressive 41 rally victories.

Volkswagen has three cars in the series this season, both on the main Volkswagen Motorsport team of Sébastien Ogier and Jari-Matti Latvala as well as the Volkswagen Motorsport II entry of Andreas Mikkelsen.

We’ve even seen their new car for 2017 come out for testing, so an end-of-season exit feels unlikely. However, one option rumored to be on the table is to give the program a single-season extension—as it received this year, per Autosport. However, Autocar’s sources deny that a year extension is even an option—if they leave, it will likely be after this 2016 season concludes.

Thus far, Volkswagen team principal Sven Smeets declined to comment on the rumor to Autosport:

The news of Audi, of course I haven’t been involved.

I also got the news like everybody else - I don’t know what is happening in Audi.

But then the rumors [about Volkswagen] started straight away in Germany.

This is one, not really motorsport person, who asked the question, but put in his story that Wolfsburg is in question.

I don’t want to talk about these rumors or this speculation.

Furthermore, WRC commentator Colin Clark says that these reports have jumped the gun, and that no decision has been made on the team’s future.


I want to believe, Colin. I want to believe! But unfortunately, I’ve heard this exact line out of ze Germans before, and it didn’t end well for Audi Sport Team Joest.

Moderator, OppositeLock. Former Staff Writer, Jalopnik. 1984 "Porschelump" 944 race car, 1971 Volkswagen 411 race car, 2010 Mitsubishi Lancer GTS.


I figured it was only a matter of time but I’d be surprised if they canned their WRC program altogether. I can imagine VW getting rid of the third car (sorry Andreas!) and going with a more traditional two-driver lineup but shutting it down completely would be insane.