Less than 24 hours after Sebastien Ogier claimed victory in Sardinia, Volkswagen has committed to another five years in the World Rally Championship.
The company's board of directors confirmed the decision to embark on a long-term involvement in the FIA's senior rally series today and gave the green light for a continuation of its programme up to and including the 2019 season.
The German marque entered the series in 2013 and has swiftly established itself as the new force in rallying, easing to the title with Sebastien Ogier driving the Polo WRC R last season, while the combination of the Frenchman and his team-mate Jari-Matti Latvala have seen VW win each of the last ten events.
Originally, VW had committed to the series until the end of 2015, but the early decision to extend this by a further four years offers a significant boost to the series.
“The FIA World Rally Championship is a very good platform for Volkswagen to demonstrate the efficiency, dynamics and reliability of its cars to a global public,” said Dr Heinz-Jakob Neußer, the board member for technical development and responsibility for the brand's motorsport programme.
“The series is more closely oriented towards the technology used in the latest production vehicles than any other world championship, and based on the kind of real conditions that our customers all over the world experience on a daily basis. Furthermore, millions of people are passionate about this spectacular sport.
"The close interaction between the production and motorsport development departments at Volkswagen, the sporting contest with our direct rivals in various markets, and the huge potential for marketing in the media led to our decision to commit to a long-term involvement in the World Rally Championship.”
Alluding to the recent struggles in the decision-making process for the series' future direction, VW Motorsport Director Jost Capito has called on the promoters and the manufacturers to work together in an effort to raise the championship's profile.
“The Volkswagen board's decision to commit to the FIA World Rally Championship until 2019 makes us very proud,” said motorsport director Jost Capito, “Volkswagen has never implemented a long-term motorsport programme on this scale before, and this faith is a huge motivation for our entire team not to rest on its laurels for a single second, but to continue to show the same degree of passion, determination and commitment to ensure we remain successful in the World Rally Championship.
“A prerequisite for the success of the championship itself is a format optimised for TV, in order to make rallying even more attractive for the general public. We call upon the promoters to work together with the manufacturers to significantly increase the media coverage of the series.”
Ogier's win on the Rally Sardegna saw him extend his lead in the overall standings to 33 points over Latvala, while Andreas Mikkelsen in the VW Motorsport II Polo R WRC is fourth.