Volkswagen ceases motorsport commitment

169 Motorsport staff absorbed into VW AG as part of "mobile electric age" push. Sad

By Matt Bird / Wednesday, December 2, 2020

Though VW may not be recalled as one of the great motorsport titans, news that Volkswagen Motorsport GmbH is to be disbanded remains significant. Just last year it was building Golf GTIs that paid homage to its touring car success and claiming recordsthe world over with the ID.R. Now that's all going, as the manufacturer continues its earnest drive towards being the "leading provider of sustainable electromobility."

It rather makes a mockery, too, of the 'motorsport improving the breed' line that's often trotted out to support a racing campaign. After all, VW is going to be no less competitive in the EV market with the demise of its motorsport department; indeed, it's hoping to be more so, with the 169 staff moving across to AG with their ID.R expertise. But if the other manufacturers can gain no significant advantage by competing, they may start to question the point. Because how advantageous can the marketing angle really be?

"The Volkswagen Motorsport GmbH team has had significant sporting successes for the brand over the decades. My sincere thanks go to all employees for the many victories, titles and records around the world and their personal commitment, "said Wilfried von Rath, Member of the Board of Management of the Volkswagen brand.

No kidding. The old Polo WRC won four straight Drivers' and Constructors' Championships – and 82.7 per cent of the rallies it entered – while VW Motorsport claimed three Dakar victories on the trot with a Touareg. The Polo R Supercar rallycross machine won 11 of 12 World RX races in 2018. That's just the factory motorsport; cars built for privateers enjoyed myriad success as well, with the Golf GTI TCR having secured 20 championships across global TCR racing since 2015. The Polo GTI R5 rally car, developed for the 2018 season and with production to stop this year, has also taken victories. It's quite the legacy.

And while VW says that parts for both the rally Polo and Golf touring car "will be ensured for the long term", this is a fairly drastic line in the sand. Because it seems unlikely a motorsport programme will be resumed again at some point in the future. Quite appropriately, and rather poignantly, VW Motorsport's home page currently reads: 'No sign of settling down after more than 50 years.' Well, now it is. And, perhaps more worryingly, it wouldn't be a surprise to see other manufacturers follow suit.

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