Simon Long, the CEO of World Rally Championship promoter North One Sport, has said Volkwagen's decision to commit to the series is a 'huge boost' for the sport.
VW confirmed yesterday [Thursday] that it will enter the series from 2013 onwards with a car based on the Polo model, with development work already underway and plans in place to have a car running before the end of the current season.
It means Volkswagen joins BMW/Mini in committing to the series following the introduction of new regulations based on Super 2000 cars fitted with a 1.6 litre turbo engine and will see the Polo join the Mini John Cooper Works, Citroen DS3 WRC and Ford Fiesta RS WRC on stages around the world.
“The WRC is the pinnacle of rallying; it's all about being the world's best and Volkswagen is right up there as one of the world's best automotive brands,” Long said. “Coming hard on the heels of the BMW and MINI announcement this is yet another vote of confidence in the future direction of the WRC. The WRC is all about innovation - whether that's on the sporting, technical or promotional side. We're finding new ways to connect with fans, new ways of developing the sport and the technology beneath it, and that very much mirrors what VW are looking to do as a business and with its Polo.
“We're providing evidence to car manufacturers that we can give them something unique with which to connect with fans and their audiences around the world. It's is not just about performance or price, it's also about an emotional connection with the car - and that's where the WRC comes in. There's no other motorsport that provides such a close link between the road, the competitive action and the showroom.
“The fact that Volkswagen has 10,000 dealers around the world also provides us both with an opportunity to reach out to an ever wider audience. Volkswagen's pedigree on the Dakar Rally is a perfect training ground for what they can achieve in the WRC. They've shown what they can do on sand – now let's see what they can do on sand, gravel, ice, asphalt and snow.”