Last week, I reported that Audi officially left the World Endurance Championship (WEC) in favor of the all-electric Formula E. Now, it appears that motorsport departure won't be the only one for Volkswagen Group this year.
Volkswagen will end its involvement in the World Rally Championship (WRC), Autocar reports, citing sources present at a meeting in Wolfsburg, Germany on Tuesday. The company reportedly promised to retain all 200 motorsport employees. Volkswagen was working on a new version of its Polo WRC car for 2017, but that will reportedly disappear into the ether.
Those employees won't be sitting around twiddling their thumbs. Instead, they'll be put to work as Volkswagen places its motorsport focus on its GTI TCR touring car and perhaps Skoda's rally efforts. Autocar claims the official announcement will come Wednesday, after the staff has been notified.
Volkswagen has been on a WRC hot streak, which is why this news comes as a bit of a shocker. It won the manufacturer and driver championships in 2013, 2014, 2015 and 2016. To date, the company has claimed 41 victories.
The reason for this alleged departure is simple -- Dieselgate. Audi's shift from WEC to Formula E came on the heels of a call to tighten the financial belt. Volkswagen will spendin the US alone to clean up the mess left by its diesels, which intentionally cheated lab tests, only to pollute well in excess of the legal limit once on the road.