Finally, after two years of speculation and rumors concerning Volkswagen and the World Rally Championship, VW officially announced today their entry into the 2013 season. Vehicle of choice you ask? The Volkswagen Polo as pictured. This is supposedly no small entry as Volkswagen is rumored to be putting close to 100 million euros into the program.
There has yet to be an announcement on who will pilot the machines as it is still 20 months away from competing. Word in the service park is that a young German driver will pilot one Polo while an “established” driver will pilot the #1 machine. Petter Solberg is said to be a favorite for a seat. Originally it was believed Petter would compete alongside Nassir al-Attiyah, however it appears that will not be the case. A few German young guns have been mentioned. There are a couple early favorites, but we still have sometime before an official driver lineup is announced.
Volkswagen announced that a car will be ready by the end of the year and Carlos Sainz will be the test driver. Brilliant move obviously as Sainz has seen great success with VW in the Dakar series and he is not too shabby a rally driver either. Sainz is a two time World Rally Champion with titles in 1990 and 1992 (both with Toyota).
This is great news obviously for the WRC as they will now have four manufacturers in the mix. It also says a lot about the future of the WRC for VW to be putting in that kind of money for a program. Their aim is to win the championship right out of the gate no doubt. The question is, can they get the talent to win or will they be a flop much like Toyota was in Formula 1? Just because you bring the most money to the party does not guarantee success. The new regulations for the WRC have really gotten a lot of attention as they have become very manufacturer friendly. The 1.6 litre turbo has served the series well thus far along with the S2000 chassis. I don’t expect to see many more manufacturer entries however. North One made it clear that having four is the perfect number. Any more and their will be teams not winning and withdrawing. I think four is a good number along with the number of private entries that will also be in competition. Mark your calendars for Rally Sweden in 2013 as it is shaping up to be the best season in some time.